How do you feel about how your business executes what you set out to accomplish? Do you consistently execute on your strategic plans? And how much are you in alignment? For example, if you were to pick a percentage, would you pick 100% of the time? 75% of the time? 50% of the time? 25% of the time? Or some other percentage of the time?
How about your big projects or initiatives? Do you execute in alignment 100%? 75%? 50%? 25%? Or some other percentage?
If you’re like most business owners and entrepreneurs your answer is way south of 100% (and probably way south of 50% of the time), which is a real problem.
It’s one of the primary reasons why most businesses tend to push plans and projects from quarter to quarter and year to year making very little progress.
So, how can you turn that around? Well one way to begin making some progress on this issue (and there are multiple reasons why this problem exists) is to implement The Five Rhythms into your business.
In my BizScalers Club, we use the analogy of racing to help organize these five rhythms into our businesses.
Rhythm #I – Yearly Marathons
In order to make significant progress on things that matter, every business, including yours, needs to have a well thought through strategic plan. One that lays out a significant growth path (north of 25% growth per year) with key metrics, growth accelerators, constraint eliminators and quarterly accountabilities for everyone on the leadership team.
Your strategic plan should be primarily strategic in nature, not tactical. You’re defining what you want to be, not how to get there. But this preferred vision of your future should drive everything in your business over the next twelve months. It shouldn’t be a document you create in the fall for the following year never to be seen again until the next fall. It should be a living breathing document that you reference weekly/monthly and should inform every plan for that coming year.
As you know, a marathon is a long, hard, arduous race. It requires perseverance, grit, determination, an ability to overcome and push through pain, and a burning desire to reach the finish line. Your strategic plan is your marathon and it should require nothing less than a 26.2 mile race would.
So, how are you doing on fulfilling your strategic plan for this coming year? Is it strategic? Does it lead to significant growth? And how will you use it weekly and monthly over the next twelve months to drive the execution of it?
Note: Not only should your business have a strategic plan, each of your departments should have an annual plan, in alignment with your company’s strategic plan as part of their rhythm as well.
Rhythm #2 – Quarterly Races (or 90-Day Races)
While strategic plans and annual department plans are critical, the one inherent problem is that they tend to lack motivation because, well, twelve months is a long time. The frequent refrain is something like this, “Hey, it’s only February. I have until December to get this done. I’ll work on it in Q4.” Ugh!
On the other hand, even though monthly plans are essential (we’ll discuss them in a moment), they tend to be too short in time frame to get big projects done. Why? Because every week you and your people still have to do your normal work. So, what’s the solution? Exactly, focus on quarters. Or as we like to refer to them in BizScalers Club, 90-Day Races. In 90-days, you can make a lot of progress on issues that matter.
Using your yearly marathon, then, you want to break your strategic plan (or departmental plan) into four execution style plans. You should pick five projects that, over the course of the next 90-days, will allow you to make significant progress on your yearly plan.
For example, you might pick something like
- Launch new outsourced CFO service
- Develop and implement a new Best Buyer strategy
- Hire and onboard three new sales people
- Systematize a better hiring process to ensure we’re only hiring A players
- Master Facebook ads so we can profitably scale up our ad spend in Q2
- Turn our website from a brochure site to a lead generating site, etc.
You get the idea. These aren’t simple, easy to get done projects. Nor are they year-long annual or on-going projects. But can you imagine the kind of impact these kinds of projects could have on you and your business if you could nail down 20 of these big projects every year, My guess is that it would be business-changing for you and your company.
So how are you doing at creating and overseeing 90-day races in your business?
Rhythm #3 – Monthly Sprints (or 30-Day Sprints)
30-Day Sprints are game changers. They take the big ideas of your strategic plans and the big projects from your 90-Day Races and put them into actionable projects that can to be executed fast (hence the word, Sprint).
Every month, you should have, as part of your rhythm, time set aside to define what the top one to three projects are for that month (which should be in alignment with your 90-Day Race plan). You and your team should then list out all of the actions that need to be accomplished that month to complete those projects (on Post it Notes). Note: you can do this on a computer, but there’s something very powerful about actually manually moving post it notes every day from one column to the next.
You then should organize all of those tasks on your 30-Day Sprint Board under the four headings of
- Hopper (where all tasks start)
- On Deck (those tasks that should be worked on this week)
- Doing (those tasks that are being actively worked on this day) and
- Done (those tasks that have been completed)
Then every day, during your daily meeting, standing in front of your Sprint Board, you should be move post it note tasks from the left to the right. The end result of doing this should be the acceleration of actions that ensure that your yearly marathons and quarterly races actually get accomplished.
So, how are you doing at creating and overseeing 30-day sprints in your business?
Rhythm #4 – Weekly Dashes
If you’ve been sensing a theme here :-), it’s all about alignment. The power of these five rhythms is that they all feed and flow into one another. Yearly marathons > Quarterly Races > Monthly Sprints > Weekly Dashes.
If you operate this way, you should never wonder if your plan is going to be executed because every week you’re looking at your strategic plan, your 90-Day race plan, and your monthly sprint plan.
If you ever wonder what you should invest your time on, your weekly dash, your monthly sprint and your 90-day race plan should make that abundantly clear.
Dashes are all about outright speed. If we liken your monthly sprint to a 400M (or 440 yard) race, the weekly dash is the 100M (or 100 yard) sprint. It’s a pure burst of speed.
So how are you doing at making sure your weekly plans and actions are in alignment with your monthly sprints and quarterly races?
Rhythm #5 – Daily Workouts
Your fifth and final rhythm is to do the hard work necessary to drive a great dash or sprint, the work you do in the gym—the daily work of sweating and pushing and sets and practice and road work etc. This is where victories are forged, in the weight room and on the practice track. It’s in the day-to-day hustle and work that no one sees where dashes and sprints are won.
But what forges champions is that they make sure that the daily work they do is always in light of the long term goal they’re pursuing. In your case, it’s your vision, reduced down to a strategic plan, reduced to a quarterly race, reduced to a monthly sprint, reduced to a weekly dash.
It’s all about alignment. That’s why these five rhythms are so important.
One of the primary reasons why strategic plans often fail (i.e. they don’t get executed) is because they only function on a yearly rhythm. A twelve month cycle is way too long to be effective. You need to break that down into a series of rhythms that ultimately lead to what you (or your staff) are going to do today.
So what percentage of the time when you’re making your to do sheet for the day are your choices made in alignment with your strategic plan?
If your answer is anything less than 100% of the time, you might want to start organizing your life and business around these five rhythms. They’ll not only ensure that your strategic and growth plans get executed, they’ll also accelerate the speed at which those plans get executed. In other words, they might even push you and your business to grow faster and achieve more.
The simple BizScalers rule is … everything in alignment.
- Yearly Marathons
- Quarterly Races (or 90-Day Races)
- Monthly Sprints (or 30-Day Sprints)
- Weekly Dashes
- Daily Workouts
Once you get these five rhythms in place, you can go in either direction and end up at the same place. Daily > Weekly > Monthly > Quarterly > Yearly or Yearly > Quarterly > Monthly > Weekly > Daily. Either way, they should end up in the same place.
So what do you need to do this week to start implementing your own five rhythms?
To your accelerated success!