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Annual Planning is Dead

By Heyden Enochson

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Annual Planning is Dead

Well, we don’t actually mean that. But it’s certainly enough to get your attention!

What we do mean is setting annual plans and only adapting and changing them once a year is dead. Monthly or quarterly strategy reviews are the periodic check points that make the difference between creating a living, breathing plan with the culture to execute it and one that is left in the desert to dry up. We’ve been covering the strategy review process in our newsletters during the last several months – check them out if you’ve missed any of them:

Part 1/2: Success Rides on Your Strategy’s Implementation Model

Part 2/2: Picking the Right Strategic Review Cycle & Cadence

Three Flavors of Strategy Reviews

The Power of the One-Page Strategic Plan

Remember, it’s just not enough to have the review. It’s critical the way you lead the review. One thing often missed in the world of strategic planning is that strategy reviews are, at minimum, 1 part looking back at your plan and 2 parts learning and adapting your plan to look forward.

While that seems logical, most of the time we focus on the review part instead of the learning and adapting part. That’s because the traditional mindset of a “review” is a lookback; but we vehemently believe it should be more of a look forward. So, here are a few tips to help you put this idea into practice during your next strategy review.

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When do you make changes?

Short answer: At the same pace of your strategy review cycle.

Changes need to match the pace of your business and review cycle. So, if you are reviewing your strategic plan on a weekly basis, make it weekly. If it’s monthly, change it monthly. Quarterly, change it quarterly. You get the idea. The most important part of this idea is that you are making changes as often as you are reviewing the plan.

How do we know when something needs to change?

Short answer: When things aren’t moving and they should be.

If the needle isn’t moving and you have given it enough time and effort, do something differently. You shouldn’t be making rash decisions, but it becomes obvious when your efforts aren’t making an impact and it’s time to shift what you’re doing.

What part of the plan changes?

Short answer: Most likely initiative-level components of your plan.

The most likely jumping point for changing and adapting your plan is likely your initiatives. You probably won’t want to change your goals, and we strongly recommend NOT changing your KPIs. The only case for changing KPIs is if they are not providing you the information you need about your plan’s performance.

Who makes the change?

Short answer: Follow the recommendation of the goal owner.

Goal owners should come forward at the reviews with thoughtful comments about what they’ve learned during the last 30 or 90 days and recommend changes. The groups should discuss the changes and decide what to move forward with.

Ending the meeting

One of the last and final points about reviewing and adapting your plan through the strategy review process is how you end the meeting. DO NOT end the review without a recap on what everyone should be doing differently for the next 30-60 days.


Heyden Enochson

Heyden works as OnStrategy’s Communications Manager, focusing on developing and executing effective customer and website communications. Heyden brings with him a design and marketing background in addition to developing integrated marketing communication plans.

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