How to set focus areas for next quarter

Deciding what to work on and why is the most important factor for your success in an upcoming quarter.

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  1. Take stock of what you were working on/towards in this past quarter

  2. Get collaborative

  3. Set yourself up for success

  4. Input Goals and Initiatives in initiative.ly

  5. Identify further relevant goals



Before we get into the nuts and bolts, let’s cover 4 key allowances we must make before we set the priorities for the coming quarter

1. Allocate sufficient time to quarterly planning & strategy execution

Upfront: Allocate at least a few uninterrupted hours to get started. Each quarter, you'll become more and more efficient and proficient at planning the next quarter.

On going Dedicate 15mins per day to check on & journal progress against your goals & initiatives

2. Get into the right mindset

Start your Quarterly planning with a strategic view, and prepare to get into the details. Start first thing in the morning - before getting heads down in the nitty-gritty, technical aspects of your role.

3. Take it one step at a time, remember this process is fluid

There are layers to planning quarterly, we start with high-level goals, then how we want to measure those goals, then how we want to achieve those goals.

You may have the ability to set the tone across each layer, you may have key stakeholders - even customers - to liaise with or seek endorsement from. There might be one or two things which just need to happen regardless.

4. Prepare to adapt

2020 has been a living, breathing example of expecting the unexpected. Internal and external factors will likely arise when they do - you may have to adjust some or all of your quarterly plan.

Being prepared for this means coming in with the right mindset, but also, setting the right expectations for your stakeholders e.g. customers, people you report too and managing those expectations should things need to change.

Enough groundwork - let’s plan your quarter.

1. Take stock of what you were working on/towards in this past quarter

This is the easiest way to get started - for most businesses and products - there are certain goals which are important every quartere.g. revenue growth, customer satisfaction related goals. Lets first extend/re-plan these before we go blue-sky on new priority areas.

  1. Create a new spreadsheet, name your sheet "Quarterly planning" and make a heading "Q3 2020" for one of the columns. In this column, list the goals you worked towards last quarter. Your sheet may look like this:
  2. Start with a list of goals from your current or previous quarter
  3. Add a new column with the heading ‘status’, which of these goals and milestones did you achieve fully, partially or make no progress on?
  4. What are the status of these goals? which ones need to be extended?
  5. Add a new column with the heading ‘next step’ decide here which goals to re-plan, which to leave alone and which to extend.
  6. What are the next steps for these goals?
  7. Add a new column with the heading ‘Goals for Q4 2020’ Define the next steps for Q3 goals in Q4 - your sheet may look like this:
  8. Re-plan your current or past quarter Goals
  9. Pick the top three goals from this list, write a quick sentence for ‘why’ these goals are important. The ‘why’ sentence should be short but well thought out. If you cannot pick the top 3, write a ‘why’ sentence for each - the most important one should become apparent.

    The focus here is to get started and run the process end to end, that’s why we’re picking the top three, we’ll come back for the rest and new goals in a future step.

    The best goals are ‘directionally’ important. Achieving them means we move in the right direction to continue the mission of this company or product.
  10. Why are these top 3 goals important

2. Get collaborative

Goal planning need not be a solo endeavour - it's worth getting the person you report directly too involved. Send them an email with a basic template like this:

Subject: Q4 2020 Goal Planning

Body:

Hi {NAME],

Wondering if you could help me out with my Q4 2020 goal planning - I've got a list of Q3 2020 goals that I feel should be replanned for the next quarter.

Would you have thirty minutes this week or next to review this list and suggest any new goals or milestones I should have on my radar for next quarter?

Thank you so much

[Name]

Next, do you have people on your team? engineers? designers? lets get them involved as well

Subject: Q4 2020 Goal Planning

Body:

Hi Team,

It's time to plan goals and milestones for Q4 2020, wondering if you'd like to influence what we're working towards? These are our Q3 2020 goals that I feel should be replanned for the next quarter.

[Insert your excel list here]

If you have any feedback on the list, or feel there are some areas we should be paying more attention too - please let me know and I can consider these for inclusion.

Thank you so much

[Name]

Ok! now that those emails are sent - lets get to work so we're ready when our direct report or team get back to us.

3. Set yourself up for success

The more rigor you apply the higher the chance of acheiving your goals and making an impact in your priority areas. Lets look at what we could do to impact our chances of success

Activity plan to support execution in the coming quarter:

Create goals & link initiatives to achieve those goals using initiative.ly

Review and update the progress and status of goals and initiatives daily

Invite colleague(s) to plan and execute in your initiative.ly site

Use initiative.ly to have structured WIPs and 1:1s with the people you report too and the people who report to you

Review your quarter and plan the next

Review and update the progress and status of goals and initiatives daily (ideal) or weekly (minimum)

4. Get started, create Goals and Initiatives in initiative.ly

If you're reading this article, and if you've made it this far - I'm going to assume that acheiving your goals is important to you and, you're willing to do the work to get there.

The next step introduces a framework and way of working. The point of this step is to position you for success in acheiving your goals, managing the execution of your strategy.

If you’ve not yet created your initiative.ly account - to maximise the chance of you achieving your goals, please do so now

If you're reading this article, and if you've made it this far - I'm going to assume that acheiving your goals is important to you and, you're willing to do the work to get there.

The next step introduces a framework and way of working. The point of this step is to position you for success in acheiving your goals, managing the execution of your strategy.

If you’ve not yet created your initiative.ly account - to maximise the chance of you achieving your goals, please do so now

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If you have created your initiative.ly account

  1. Check your email for login details
  2. Sign in and head to the ‘Goals’ screen
  3. Enter your top 3 goals into this form
  4. Press ‘Create Goals’

Input your top 3 goals and press 'Create':

Enter your top three goals to get started

Your 3 goals are created, next, create initiatives:

Your Goals are created, ready for initiatives

Create initiatives for each Goal, journal your next step for each:

Initiative created

Create initiatives for each Goal

Next, click on “Next: Update progress & next steps for this Initiative - click here to start” for this initiative. Write your first journal entry here - a sentence detailing the next steps for this initiative is a good starting point.

Leave an update, what's the current situation and next steps?

Anything you do or work on, to acheive this goal, is an initiative. e.g.

  • Improve the core product
  • Launch an iOS application
  • Set up an innovation stream
  • Launch in France
  • Interview recently churned customers

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out - Robert Collier

Next, keep creating goals & initiatives. The end result will be a one page source of truth. What we're doing (Initiatives) and why (Goals) in this quarter.

If you regularly update the progress and status of each Goal and Initiative - you'll be across the details, it's less likely that initiatives slip off the radar and more likely you acheive your goals.

Leave an update, what's the current situation and next steps?

5. Identify further relevant Goals

Now that you have a handful of Goals in Initiative.ly - lets touch on how we can introduce more goals or - ensure the goals we have are sufficiently broad. Do you have goals which..

  1. Increase the number of customers who sign up for your product or service? e.g.
    • Increase organic traffic
    • Be featured as a guest on relevant blogs, in relevant trade articles
    • Increase traffic from Social Channels incl LinkedIN
  2. Increase engagement of existing customers who sign up for your product or service? e.g.
    • Increase sessions per user
    • Increase pages per session
  3. Address pain points felt by new customers e.g.
    • Improve checkout flow
    • Rewrite support documentation
    • Priority customer support for new users
  4. Address pain points felt by existing customers e.g.
    • Improve app speed
    • Launch native iOS and Android apps
    • Enhanced search and filtering
  5. Allow for revenue growth from existing customers e.g.
    • Introduce a new premium tier
    • Build and lanch an advanced analytics add on
  6. Set your product or business up for success in the future
    • Reduce tech debt
    • Burn down defect backlog

Even with a laundry list of Goals like this, initiative.ly can make this is easy to manage, communicate and execute on.

Categorize a laundry list of goals with initiative.ly

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