Years ago at a conference in Bali, I observed a fellow attendee who was challenged to clean the leaves from an enormous swimming pool (full of water) with a butterfly net. He was given all day to complete the task – there were that many leaves!

He stuck it out for a good 10 minutes in the heat of the day, then sat on the edge of the pool to THINK. Observing people laughing & headed to the nearby gym, he asked them to join him in the pool for a few minutes. He promised them a good workout and some fun. The only rule? To chase him, running 2-abreast in the pool as hard as they could, in a clock-wise direction. The reward:

  1. a vortex of water which allowed him to quickly scoop up all the leaves
  2. a good work out laughs and a few beers afterwards (for the newly enlisted team)
  3. a considerable amount of time spent (by him) that day on the beach

What are you currently doing that creates frustration and chews up your time that if addressed at a strategic level could create an opportunity?

The Power of Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning is an opportunity for you to dream big, to set some goals and objectives and then plan the actions that will ensure your vision is met. When done well, having a strategic plan can:

  1. Set the direction for all those involved in your business
  2. Lead to better-informed decisions and decisive action, and
  3. Provide a process & tool that clearly shows whether you’re achieving your goals (or not)

It often makes sense for a third party, independent of the organisation to facilitate this Strategic Planning exercise as they often bring a wider viewpoint and experience to the table.

The process will determine where you’re currently “at”, whether your original vision is clear and whether you’re achieving the outcomes you require. Starting with the end in mind, the process ensures you are focussed on long-term agreed targets over a 3-5-year period and you’re able to inspire and direct others to make it happen. At an individual level, you’re clear on what you want, what’s negotiable and what’s not.

Introduce 90 Day Planning: a simple, effective tool

The real value in having a Strategic Plan is when it’s implemented! Because once the bigger picture’s known, the next step is to chunk things down into smaller pieces – you may have heard the phrase “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.” This is where that happens! You need the detail (written down of course – not just in your head!) so that you can hold yourself and/or others accountable.

This means setting some short-term goals and putting milestones in place once you have clarity, so you can time set aside for completion, then review every 90 Days. The review helps close any gaps and confirms you’re making progress. It’s that “feel good” factor.

I have found the 90 Day Planning process highly effective because everyone knows exactly where they and the business needs to be in 90 days. This can be a powerfully motivating process as it means action points are clear (and diarised) and people “own” the actions required. They can be held to account when things are not being achieved but also congratulated when things are going to plan.

The Quick & Dirty: 7 Steps to take to make your 90 Day Plan a Reality

  1. Using a white board, draw up 4 columns with 3-4 rows in each
  2. Focus on the 3-4 goals that MUST be achieved at the end of 3 months. Be very specific what these are, then
  3. List them in Column 1 with one row assigned to each Key Focus Area (KFA)
  4. In the next column (column 2), define the outcome or result that’s required beside each KFA. Again be specific – what do you truly want to achieve? Be realistic here!
  5. In the 3rd column, for each KFA, list how the result can be measured ($, #, %)
  6. Then in the last column (column 4), list all the action points required to make the KFA a reality. Here, detail is the key, because then
  7. Each action point must be diarised

When complete, take a photo of the whiteboard and transfer your plan to a brightly coloured piece of paper to ensure it doesn’t get caught up with other paperwork on your desk. Put it in a prominent place where it regularly catches your eye!

Diarise a time weekly (with yourself and your team if you have one) where you review progress being made against your 90 Day Plan – no exceptions, no excuses.

Remember, your plans can be updated at any time. They’re living documents designed to be regularly reviewed so you achieve that end result. Go for it!

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” – Alan Lakein

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