With any planning technique, driving is often the analogy. We use navigation as the way to describe goal setting (If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which way you drive). For Annual Planning, we use the car’s cockpit. There are a number of gauges available to help the driver make sure that they are driving safely and without any problems. You have the Speedometer, Gas Guage and maybe an Odometer as well as many warning lights. All of these are used to keep the driver informed about the current state of the vehicle.
So, a business needs to do what a driver does and the warning lights do for him or her. A driver needs to take action if things are wrong. So, does a business. When a car is out of gas, then the driver reacted too late. The same is true with a business owner. So, with all the planning that gets done, goals need to be set. Levels of performance to obtain the goals must be created. Measurements to determine the levels of performance must be set. This last needs to have levels for both good performance and poor performance.
I want to stop there and address something that is critical to this process. That is measurement. If you don’t measure something, then you don’t know how you are doing. This means that you can have measurements below the thresholds that you set for success. Not meeting a measurement means that you need to change. It does not mean that you are a failure or that an effort has failed. But if you don’t make a change then you will almost certainly fail. “As Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.”
How often you check your measurements is another challenge for companies. Since I lived in the corporate world, I generally look at these things quarterly. Sales Teams often look at them weekly or monthly. Whatever your choice, be consistent. It is not okay to skip a review. Doing that lowers the value of the review, the measurements, and the process. There are so many examples of the process working that you should want it to work for you.
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