I spent the last 18 years in leadership positions leading tremendous teams. For the last 10 years, I co-founded a company, grew it to over 200 employees serving thousands of companies, and became passionate on the value of leading a team with a strong sense of purpose and clear, actionable goals. After years of testing and studying various methodologies such as OKR, V2MOM, SMART Goals, OMTMM, etc, I developed a unique quarterly planning approach called the Alignment Plan. This approach starts by looking at the purpose for your team. Why do you exist, how do you help people? Then connecting this with your vision and mission - where are we going and how will we get there. We combine these concepts into a single concise statement and then build our entire quarterly plan around it.
One of the fundamental keys to this approach is that the final Alignment Plan fits on one page, one screen without scrolling, and removes all aspects of noise. It focuses on what matters most and communicates back where we stand on each item and our color sentiment for achieving them going forward. I've rallied exec teams, sales teams, boards, and most importantly, entire companies around a single quarterly plan that drives us closer to fulfilling our complete mission.
THE ALIGNMENT PLAN
4 Steps To Creating The SWOT Analysis Alignment Plan
Leadership starts with Mission and Vision. How do you help people, where are we going, how will we get there, and what rules or values will guide you safely to our destination? 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 statement that is no more than 12 words, and add this mission statement to the top of your SWOT Analysis in the next step, then your plan in step 3.
Understand where you are today in 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 teams strengths that are propelling you? What are your teams weaknesses that are holding you back? What are the external market opportunities your team can leverage to 10x your velocity? What are the external macro threats that can absolutely sink your team?
Now rank the items in each section by importance, just drag the top items to the top of each section.
Next, click the "+" in the bottom left of page and add a 90 day future state section. Now envision your 90 day future state (or annual future state). Where do you want to be in 90 days at the end of the quarter? What are the top 3-5 big areas you must focus on over the next 90 days to make progress against your mission?
TEST it - does your future state match the needs called out in your SWOT Analysis? Are you doubling down on your strengths? Overcoming your weaknesses? Leveraging external opportunities, and mitigating threats?
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 key word 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 work we need to do 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.
4. WEEKLY RHYTHM
Each week by 12 noon on friday each team updates their plan by adding scores, choosing a color to signal current sentiment; red = blocked, yellow = at risk, green = on track
Start your weekly team meeting with your Alignment Plan. Discuss your weekly highlights, blockers, and next weeks goals.
On the 1st of EVERY month everyone comes together and each team leader shares their teams color forecast and blockers with everyone (8 minutes each). No powerpoint, the only thing on the screen is their team plan. People are encouraged to ask questions, suggest ideas for addressing blockers.
Every team unit has a plan, they repeat the exercise listed above. Their mission & vision should support and closely align with the top level plan
Planning kicks off on the 1st day of the third month of each quarter
The top level teams plan is reviewed in draft state by the 15th day in the third month
The top level teams plan is reviewed in final review form on the 27th day in the third month
The top level plan is locked and sent to printer on the 1st day on the new quarter
Each surrounding team unit repeats the process and presents their team plans on the 2nd day after quarter start
All team plans are locked and sent to the printer on the 4th day after quarter start