Recently, I had a follow up phone call with a Strategic Plan-ting™ workshop attendee. Maggie (not her real name) and I spent 30 minutes reviewing her quarterly action plan and preparing a new plan for the next quarter.
Maggie started out the call by telling me she was a bad Strategic Plan-ter because she had not accomplished her goals for the quarter. I disagreed.
Maggie had more on her plan than she could possibly accomplish in the time period allowed. This is common among entrepreneurs. We want to conquer the world overnight and believe that we can move mountains every day. Reality frequently intervenes to humble us. However, the truly successful do not beat themselves up about missing goals; instead they reassess and make active plans to do better on their second try.
So, Maggie released these feelings of lack and we quickly moved on to completing her new quarterly priorities. As she started planning for the next quarter, she made two rookie mistakes.
First, she included in her priorities those items that are not strategic. Her first item was about making customer calls. It was detailed and included numbers so she would know if she met her goal. Yet, this did not belong on her plan because this is something that she needs to do each and every day, month, and quarter if she wants to stay in business. The task is undoubtedly important, in fact vital, to the success of her company.
However, the strategic quarterly action plan is for those items that would not get our attention if we didn’t make them a priority. It is designed to highlight those tasks that if we complete them have the potential to take our business to new levels; those tasks that if we did not highlight and track them would never be completed because they are not seen as urgent.
Second, she once again wanted to conquer the world. I admire Maggie’s spunk. However, I did not want Maggie to fail to meet her quarterly priorities two times in a row, so I suggested that we scale back her ambitions to those items that she was positive that she could accomplish within the quarterly time limit. I reminded her that if she was able to complete them sooner, that she could and should go back to her strategic plan and create a new quarterly plan. There is no rule that it can only be updated when the quarter ends.
At the end of the call Maggie and I were both pleased and excited. Maggie has a quarterly plan that is both challenging and achievable. And when the quarter ends she will have moved forward in a very specific and measurable way that will make her more efficient in tracking customer jobs. We even talked about how this could be a leverage point for her to delegate future customer contact points…a possible future strategic objective.
Maggie is ready to achieve excellence in the next quarter. Are you?
Have a great day!