How to Repeat Last Year’s Strategic Plan Success
At the end of every fiscal year, we look back to see the successful strides made the previous year. We attempt to review our strategic plan understand how to repeat success.
Often times customers will tell me that last year was their best year yet. Their revenue peaked and they accomplished many wonderful things. This is no doubt an exciting feat. But when I ask them how they arrived at the finish line, the conversation goes a bit quiet.
When you add the question “how do you plan to repeat the success again?”, the conversation grows even quieter.
Unfortunately, this is the case in many organizations. Individuals and teams can tell you WHAT projects or initiatives they accomplished. They can add on WHAT KPIs/goals they achieved. But they cannot pinpoint which activities led to success.
Often it boils down to a “rising tide floats all boats” explanation.
This works for a single year, or maybe a few successful years. To identify patterns and deliberately repeat success, activities, and outcomes must be connected.
Here are 3 tips for navigating last year’s success and repeating it next year:
Create a Clear Line of Sight
Many times, organizations are not tracking all activities, initiatives, and projects in the same platform. Sometimes they don’t track them at all. This is the leading cause of difficulty understanding which activities are impacting results.
Take for example Company X. Company X achieves $180 Million in new business revenue for FY 20 and this is a new record for them as an organization. They know which deals led them there, and they likely have an understanding of which campaigns, lead generation strategies, or more were successful. But what likely is missing, is how each of those directly impacted results.
They have a big question mark of how to repeat success in the next FY, with little understanding of where to begin for new initiatives.
Instead, if Company X aligned specific initiatives and activities to their top-line goals, they would have a better understanding of which activities led their record-breaking year.
They would have a clear line of sight into what worked, and what didn’t, informing the plan for the new fiscal year.
Step 1 is connecting activities to outcomes, projects to goals, actions to results.
Look Back on Your Plans
While important to repeat successful initiatives, it’s imperative to build upon them over time.
This is why looking back and performing a retrospective across all of your plans is a key element to repeat success.
With plans and projects properly aligned and a clear line of sight, you can pinpoint exactly which initiatives worked and which did not.
Once you have completed this analysis, you can eliminate time wasting activities that missed the mark and spend more time on the ones that did. Each year is different and while we wish that all successful initiatives would perform the same year over year, that just isn’t reality.
It’s important to evaluate how you can build upon successful initiatives and continue to make them better. Without performing a retrospective, and being honest, this simply will not happen.
Step 2 is to understand the value in what worked and use that to inform the next plan.
Get Everyone Involved
Finally, it is important to get every key individual in the organization involved.
As we discussed in our Leading from the Center Guide, the doers are the workhorses of your organization. But it is up to the architects and translators to help them feel empowered to complete strategic success.
Often employees will know it has been a successful fiscal year, but they won’t know exactly why. They won’t understand how their work helped drive the organization forward.
By creating a line of sight and a retrospect on plans, you can appropriately communicate with the organization the impact of each team and individual.
Understanding they made a difference and their work mattered will be a huge motivating factor for the new year. They will be ready to tackle their initiatives and help make the organization even more successful.
Step 3 is to leverage culture & alignment to motivate your team.
Success can be very difficult to attain and even more difficult to repeat. By creating visibility and aligning initiatives, looking back across old plans and progress, and enabling the doers of your organization, you can help enable a repeatable success model for years to come.
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