I set out to create a strategic planning rhythm that would take a life of its own and drive an entire team to come together to showcase, plan, and inspire their peers to perform at their highest levels month after month. I call it the SWOT Alignment Rhythm.
3 Step Alignment Plan Process
1. Define Your Mission
2. Perform a Situational Analysis (SWOT)
3. Build an Alignment Plan
> Discuss and update scores and forecast colors weekly
Leadership starts with a bold mission on and clear vision. How do you help people, where are we going, how will we get there, and what values will guide you along the way? Bring your team together and complete this framework below. After going through and defining your purpose, vision, plan, and values - the final step is to combine these areas into a single mission statement that is no more than 12 words. Add this mission statement to the top of your SWOT Analysis in the next step and your plan in step 3.
Our Mission (Summarize the below into 7-15 words)
Purpose - Why do we exist? How do we help people? 100 year purpose
Vision - What do we ultimately want? What is our Big Hairy Audacious Goal
Strategy - 3-5 strategic objectives we must achieve in our to achieve vision
Values - Values that guide us and are critical to enabling our success
Metric - The one metric that matters most
Next, analyze where you are today ion your journey to achieving your mission. Start by adding your concise mission statement to the top of your SWOT Analysis. Based on this mission, what is your current situation? What are your team's strengths that are driving success? What are your team's weaknesses that are holding you back and must be overcome? What are the external market opportunities your team can leverage to 10x your velocity? What are the external macro threats that can risk your mission and must be mitigated?
Now rank the items in each section by importance, just drag the top items to the top of each section.
Based on your SWOT, what are the top 3-5 areas you must focus on over the next 90 days to make progress against your mission?
Build a team Alignment Plan. Take the 3-5 aspirational objectives from your 90 day future state and list them out as your 3-5 objectives in your quarterly plan (just cut and paste). Add a single keyword in all caps to represent the theme of each objective, this is the blue highlighted word. With the 3-5 objectives listed out the final step is to determine what key results we need to deliver this quarter to achieve these objectives. List out 3-5 key results per objective. The key results should be specific, measurable, and outcome based. These help you to define what success looks like this quarter.
Each Friday by noon, update the results and color sentiment for each item in the plan.
The team comes together on the 1st of every month at 9:30am to showcase their results from the prior month. They pull up their one page alignment plan with their objectives, key results, key metrics, and core values and discuss line by line, how they performed. Green Yellow Red and percentages that bring to life the the remarkable work that was completed. They discuss the blockers they overcame and still are faced with and recognize the tremendous contributions of their team and the teams that helped them to achieve the work that they've completed. And then the process restarts.
The 2nd day in each quarter is about finalizing planning, and each team coming together to reconfirm their mission, review their current state by performing a SWOT analysis, and determining through the conclusion of the SWOT what their next top priorities must be.
Leading a team with a strong sense of purpose and clear, actionable goals is critical to achieving outstanding outcomes. After years of testing and studying various methodologies such as OKR, V2MOM, SMART Goals, and many others, I developed a unique quarterly planning approach called the Alignment Plan. This approach starts by looking at the purpose of your team and your ultimate mission. Next, you analyze your current situation [SWOT] vs your mission to understand where you must focus next. Lastly, you build an OKR based Alignment plan to activate your key focuses.
One of the fundamental keys to this approach is that the final Alignment Plan fits on one page, one screen without scrolling. It focuses on what matters most and communicates back where we stand on each key result.
The 3rd day in each quarter is where these teams at 1pm stand in front of their peers and inspire them with the remarkable work they will do in the coming month. The review their one page plan which includes the key aspirational objectives that get them out of bed. Their mission that drives their team forward, day after day, and the key outcomes that they expect to achieve in the month ahead.
High impact, small team projects. Anybody in the company is encouraged to solve tough, high impact problems. Define a project mission and project lead, build out a SWOT Analysis of the current situation, and then design your project plan. Present your outcomes during an exec leadership meeting.