Quarterly rhythms. Less is more

by | Nov 2, 2021

What does your company strategy look like? Is it rigidly waterfall or are you able to take a more agile approach?

That’s assuming of course that you currently have a strategy for your business – I see plenty of companies who wrote a plan in the early days and haven’t really done much to develop it in the intervening years. I’m also seeing companies who, in the face of Covid, had to improvise and change things up on the hoof, and are still winging it to a certain extent.

It’s a vital piece of the jigsaw though: having the correct strategy in place is the backbone of growing your business.

You also have to look at the question from another angle. As well asking what your strategy is, we should also ask ‘How are you measuring success?’. Over the last 18 months I know success for many has been keeping their company afloat, but as we enter a period of economic regrowth, just treading water isn’t nearly enough. You must have some direction.

Are you planning to go back to your pre-Covid methodology? You could do– if it wasn’t broke then you might think it doesn’t need fixing now, but if there’s one positive thing the pandemic has given us, it’s an opportunity to start afresh. What’s working and what needs to change? How does the industry landscape in front of you look now as opposed to 18 months ago?

Another question: does your team have enough clarity and consistency to be able to perform at their best? Have you given them proper targets and goals so that you, and by extension they, know that they’re doing well? Who’s holding them accountable?

Who’s holding you accountable?

That’s a lot to think about, I know. But it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it might seem.

Something that’s helped me over my career is to break the year down into quarters. It immediately makes planning less intimidating. You can also focus on your ‘not-to-do’ list! Building a great plan is often about what you remove, not what you add. If you try to achieve too much, you’ll likely fall short on everything. Be bold, remove goals that are no longer serving the business and get absolute clarity on what you’ll focus on and go for it.

What I also did was to introduce some rhythms and rituals, that became habit – think of it as building muscle memory for processes within the company. This could be quarterly reviews, board meetings… anything that means you’re ensuring not only progress but also that you can see how effectively it’s happening.

Look at your metrics: if you’re going to measure growth and success, you need to know what your yardstick is! Let your team know as well – make sure they know what’s expected of them and that they’re supported in any new initiatives you’re introducing.

Then you can move onto your actual strategy: plan, do, and see what happens. You can then look at the results and take any necessary action to tweak what you’re doing (or not).

You’re aiming to build repeatable processes and bed in good habits – it might take 6, 12 or even 18 months for this to really take hold, but you’ll more than likely start seeing a difference in your working behaviours long before then. The beauty of breaking it down into quarters is that you’re blending agile and waterfall: you’ve got a plan, you can commit to big organisational changes while still able to course correct if things go slightly awry. Your team knows what’s expected of them right now whilst also having a clear view of the big picture.

These rhythms will give you clarity, minimise operational uncertainty and release your team to do their best work. If that sounds good to you, get in touch – we can’t wait to hear from you – go.jamespotten.com