Your annual business plan is doomed.

In 2020, its easy to blame COVID-19 for missed targets and goals. The reality is that this happens every year. Every time you and your business set a 12-month plan, it’s a real struggle to keep your team and organization focused on the finish line on a day-to-day basis. Before you know it, months have passed without progress toward individual and organizational goals.

And then you scramble.

In the heat of the moment, when pressure is on and the finish line is in sight, it’s amazing just how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time. Generally, that time starts now – October 1, the start of Q4. Arguably, the most productive of all 4 quarters of the year, despite major interruptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Imagine having 4th quarter focus and results all year long. That’s the power of the 90-day plan.

The 90-day plan doesn’t negate the need for an annual business plan. Rather, they are quite complementary.

Most chemical companies and other major businesses undertake an annual business planning cycle. Each year, long before the fiscal or calendar year starts, plans and budgets are set – based on priorities, projections, assumptions and targets. Then, as “day one” approaches, the plan gets rolled out into team-based and individual annual plans and goals. Most of the time, those plans and goals are back-end loaded:

  • By the end of 2020, we will deliver…
  • This year, I will accomplish…

The challenge, of course, is that its easy to delay accomplishing that goal. It feels as if you’ve got a long time to hit that target. Something else comes along and “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Or, the business environment changes. We certainly have seen that in 2020.

The most successful teams and individuals that I work with set interim goals with manageable and measurable milestones, in 90-day increments. That is the foundation of the 90-day plan.

Hitting those 90-day goals feels great! Wouldn’t you like to be like my client Cara, who told me in February: “I’ve hit my sales goals for the year!” Boom! Done. Of course, that left her open to tackle new goals and go above and beyond her targets for the year.

Characteristics of the 90-day plan:

  • Agile: Planning in shorter cycles allows you to pivot and adapt to business changes. In 2020, the global business environment was a roller-coaster. 90-day planning allows companies to realistically set targets based on the current environment and opportunities.
  • Focused: Planning in 90-day increments forces you to focus on what matters most, on tackling the most critical items. In a 90-day business plan, your resources and efforts are not spread out on a variety of long-delivery tasks but focused on the 3 or 4 biggest priorities.
  • Quick learning and adjustments: With a shorter planning cycle, you learn very quickly whether something (a project, proposal, or offering) will be successful and then can respond – continuing the path, adjusting and pivoting or even scrapping that plan and moving onto the next idea.
  • Bite-size success creates forward momentum: Experts recommend breaking big goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. 90-day business plans do just that. Breaking your bigger objectives into smaller plans and goals that can be accomplished and celebrated, creating forward momentum for your team.
  • Heightened sense of urgency: Your team gets focused on what’s needed now… When you have just 90 days (versus 365 days) to accomplish the goal, every day counts.
  • Encourages “front-end loading”: Most business plans are stacked with back-end loaded goals and then you hope they’ll be accomplished when December rolls around. By focusing on 90-day increments, your team reaches for and accomplishes their goals every quarter, not just the 4th quarter.

Successful business leaders know that keeping your team focused on the goal generates success. That’s the power of the 90-day plan.

If you’d like to learn more about how to harness 90-day planning in your business, set up a call to discuss your business and how this can help you accelerate your success.