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2016 – What’s the plan?

If you have been reading me for a while you know January is the time of the year I write a little ditty about annual achievement plans.  Holding to the underlying principle that it’s always best to start at the beginning:

The first and most important thing about goals is having one. 

Geoffrey Albery

OK – I bet all businesses have established goals for 2016.  Good start.  What’s next?  Well, in the market today I’ve noticed there is a big emphasis (perhaps even an over emphasis) on all things “strategic”.  Strategic goals; strategic planning; strategic consulting; lots of strategic-oriented business activities out there, true?

Add to this the hyperbole around performance management software; dashboards; key performance indicators; predictive analytics; and while some companies are bathing in metrics, their competition is eating their lunch.

I’ve observed with the really great companies there is something more than just putting a business plan and performance management software in place every year.  I believe great companies add two more elements to their business planning process – underlying principles and tactical execution.

One of the great CEO’s I reference often, Josh Weston (now retired from ADP) used to say, “Let me address the second one first.”  In leading ADP from $350 Million to over $8 Billion in annual revenue, he and his leadership team leveraged tactical execution as a key, complimentary activity to their annual business planning process.  They called it the “Ops Review”.

Operations reviews – a “deep-dive” into how the tactical execution at a region-by-region; department-by-department; sales-rep by sales-rep level was unfolding.  At ADP, it was the tactical execution of their strategic plan that made the difference.  Josh used to say at every monthly Ops Review, “We are now one month smarter about reaching our annual goals.”

Performance tracking in the market today is nothing new – the software tools we sell for it might be – but not the tactical execution.  And excellence in the tactical execution of our strategic plan is a force-multiplier.

Of course, one challenge that gets in the way of this force-multiplier is the availability of performance data – lots and lots of data – “big data” as it is touted.  This challenge was acknowledged at a recent performance management software webinar I attended recently,

Time is scarce; information is endless. 

What can we learn from the great companies on how to deal with today’s “big data”?

Well, there is a second force-multiplier” for our business planning process – the power of underlying principles.   Frank Hayes, writer for ComputerWorld magazine, once offered evidence of the need for underlying principles:

Data isn’t information.

Information isn’t knowledge.

Knowledge isn’t manageable.

I suggest we add in the underlying principle of transparency to the tactical execution of our annual, strategic business plan.

Returning to ADP and the sales rituals I participated in during their growth years, we operated under a cadence of weekly sales performance results.  Transparency – percentage of quota; stack ranked; weekly – weekly (e.g. “no place to hide”).  Too much stress you say?

High achievers love to be measured … because otherwise they can’t prove to themselves that they’re achieving. 

Robert Nayce

Combining the principle of transparency with the principle of continuous improvement (aka “coaching”) forges the foundation of a championship team.

The breakfast of champions is not cereal.  It’s the opposition. 

Nick Seitz

Achievement in 2016 is a competitive endeavor.  To succeed, I’ll take the team that is battle-tested week in and week out; led by great mentors and coaches; all committed to excellent tactical execution.  How about you?

GAP

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2 Comments


  1. John Veire
    Feb 04, 2016

    Great reminders Gary. We must never forget the execution part of the plan. Productivity va planning-you need both but I’ll take former over the latter every time!

    Hope all is well!


    • Gary
      Feb 19, 2016

      Thanks for your contribution John! You and I are in agreement (as usual!) And yes – things are pretty darn good on the Pokorn Ranch. Come visit some time 🙂 Thx, GAP

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