Sorry. There’s still time to make that annual promise to get organized and map out our business plans for 2008. (Okay, now say it without giggling.) Yes, we talk about planning. We know it’s the lifeblood of every enterprise.
One problem: Many of us fly by the seat of our pants when it comes to planning and tracking results. Bogged down in the day-to-day business of running the business, we’re too busy steering the ship to take the time to chart its course.
One solution: Evergreen Planning. It can help you set objectives, then track results on an ongoing basis, while automatically generating new objectives and activities and reviewing past results.
The Evergreen Planning Design Model
- Schedule the first meeting. Make it for the 15th day of the first month of each quarter.
- Draft an agenda based on the following, self-perpetuating model. The agenda is the key to Evergreen Planning. It serves as the evolving blueprint of your company’s activities. The agenda MUST be in writing, with adequate space between items for notes. Also, have an ACTION line below each item where decisions can be recorded.
- Distribute the agenda at least one week prior to the meeting. Include instructions; all attendees should be prepared to actively participate. Make sure they know what information to bring and discuss.
- In the meeting, encourage all participants to take notes directly on the agenda. Record all final decisions and conclusions. (That’s the point of the ACTION item under each heading. Note: If an item is concluded or to be dropped, indicate that "no further action" is required.)
- After the meeting, review and flesh out your notes, locking in specific goals, activities and deadlines. Work the activities into your and your employees’ agendas. IMPORTANT: Mark your calendar (A) with the date of the next meeting and (B) with a date at least one week in advance to draft the next agenda.
- Set up a "Control Book" to house agendas after each meeting. This may be a three-ring binder or a set of files. Regardless, this is an important step, because it creates a history of discussions, plans, goals and activities for future reference.
- Map out the next agenda prior to the next meeting. This is where the beauty of Evergreen Planning becomes apparent…as you prepare for and conduct the second and subsequent meetings. Using the same agenda, update it on your computer: Drop the previous quarter from the agenda (item I), then move everything up one heading and add a new quarter at the end, to replace item IV, which has become Item III. When updating the agenda, include summaries and action decisions on items from your meeting notes. This provides a reference point to chart progress at the next meeting.
EVERGREEN PLANNING MODEL
JANUARY 15, 2008
INTRODUCTION and summary of goals (if they exist; if not, they will evolve as part of the evergreen planning process)
I Review of previous quarter: Oct – Dec ’07 (Focus on whatever is relevant to your business, item by item: Income, expenses, inventory, special projects, problems, etc.)
II Review of current quarter: Jan – March ’08 (This is where you solidify goals for the quarter, consider income projections, review ongoing or current projects, etc.)
III Projected plans for upcoming quarter: April – June ’08 (Much of what takes place on this portion of the agenda may be speculative, but it encourages you to begin looking further out.)
IV One-Year Dream Projections: July ’08 and beyond (You may have specific plans or just vague ideas. But here is where you begin voicing them.)
NEXT MEETING DATE:
APRIL 15, 2008
The main section headings of an agenda for a meeting on January 15, 2008, might look like the following:
The key to Evergreen Planning is its simplicity. With minimal effort, it will help you track your company’s ongoing performance, manage ongoing work and set new goals and objectives…constantly and on a self-renewing basis. The result will be a stronger, better-defined and, very likely, more profitable company.
And as always — work hard, make money, have fun. — JRIngrisano
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