🎙 THE STRATEGY GAP PODCAST
Elevate Your Game: Strategic Prep for 2024
October 25, 2023
About this episode
As we approach the end of 2023, we're here to assist you in launching your organizational planning for 2024.
In this episode, we're taking a unique approach to help our listeners prepare for their strategic planning as the current year concludes. Our hosts, Jonathan Morgan and Joe Krause, along with the seasoned expert Lindsey LeFaivre, share valuable insights and experiences they've gained from their collective years in the field.
Together, they explore the significance of dedicating time to annual planning, involving stakeholders in decision-making, and adapting plans to accommodate changing business dynamics. Our aim is to provide our listeners with a comprehensive understanding of how to enhance their annual planning process and drive success for their organizations.
Be sure not to miss our suggestions and tips on the following topics:
- Navigating the complexities of annual planning for organizations, including the importance of retrospectives
- Crafting effective KPIs and metrics for a thorough performance evaluation
- Learning from planning mistakes, optimizing time allocation, and prioritizing effective communication in organizational development
- Practical advice on group decision-making dynamics and the importance of embracing effective communication
Jonathan Morgan [00:00:02]:
Welcome back, everybody to another episode of the strategy gap ruckus, we're gonna do things a little bit differently this episode. So instead of having a guest interview that we've been doing for the past couple of months, we thought it was a great time of year to talk about a particular topic that I'm sure is on everyone's minds, which is annual planning. So, we're going to do a roundtable discussion with myself and Joe, but we also have a new colleague from achieve it joining us for the very first time on this strategy gap. Lindsey LeFaivre, who is our director of customer engagement. Lindsey, welcome to the show.
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:00:34]:
Thanks so much for having me excited to be here with the two of you. We've been working together for a long time. So excited to put all this knowledge out to the rest of the world.
Jonathan Morgan [00:00:43]:
Yeah, absolutely. So, before we kick off into questions, since we're doing a new format, this time, we thought it might be helpful for our listeners that maybe don't know each of us as directly to get a little bit of background on what we've done in the strategy role, and kind of how that lends itself to this conversation. So, Lindsey, why don't you kick us off with a little bit of background on you?
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:01:03]:
Yeah, absolutely happy to do it. So, Lindsey LeFaivre, as Jonathan mentioned, I am director of customer success here at achieve it. And I've been at achieve it now for over five years. So, the entire time that I've been here, I've been working with Joe and Jonathan as well. And my main capacity has been within customer success. So, a lot of what I am seeing is those folks that are trying to now execute on the strategic plan, and really seeing what are those trials and tribulations that they come across? And how can I help them really get over that hump that they potentially have, prior to my time at achieve it, I worked for a startup in Phoenix, Arizona, and was basically a customer success department of one did that for a little over three years before coming over to the team and spent most of my time really working with a lot of folks in smaller businesses, a lot of entrepreneurs who are able to see all the different hats that folks were here. But just like Joe and Jonathan has spent a lot of time thinking about strategy, learning about strategy, also diving into project management as well, having gone through my Google project management search just last year, so quite a bit that I've seen throughout my time here today. But of course, there's a lot that the rest of the crew is seem to. And so, Joe, I would love it, if you would also share a little bit about your background and how we have worked together for gosh, over five years now.
Joe Krause [00:02:15]:
Yeah, it's pretty hard. It's pretty crazy here five years, it seems like it was just yesterday. But it's been an interesting five years for sure. But thank you for that, Lindsey. And for those that may know me, or maybe not. I've been here for 10 years I've been here since achieve it opened its doors since it became achievement. And I've always had a customer facing role in that capacity. So, I've been doing strategy execution work for the better part of 10 years, I've supplemented that previously coming to achieve it, I have a master's degree completed from Boston University in a discipline called healthcare communications. For those that are unaware of what that is a lot of strategic planning a lot of health literacy, public health advocacy, Epidemiology, you name it, I started my career in the pharmaceutical space. So, it just helps me hopefully condense very abstract concepts, very dense topics and make them more relatable and practical. And so that really served me very well at achieve it for the last 10 years. And then about seven years in I decided why not get an MBA, so any extra money I had, I said, Let's just give it to Rutgers Boston University, and to make sure that all my money was given away. So, at this point, so basically, my academic and professional career has been centered on this very topic. So it's exciting to have a true roundtable with folks that have a ton of experience as well. And that leads us to Mr. Morgan, who's our host, but also the time for him to talk about how he got here as well. This is his background is extensive.
Jonathan Morgan [00:03:32]:
Yeah, appreciate it, Joe. So currently at achieve it leading revenue operations and aspects of strategy for our go to market teams, been doing that for the past for I guess, almost five years. But prior to that had the lovely pleasure of working closely with Joe and Lindsey as a strategy consultant, guiding our customers from that journey through strategic planning towards execution. And as we know, all the things that can go wrong in between prior to achieve it did time at the time may not be the best way to say it but did some stints at a small and large companies leading various aspects of go to market strategy, project management, consulting, and a little bit of everything in between. So happy to kick off the conversation today. I don't know about y'all. But certainly, when I look out my window here, there's leaves falling to the ground, which if that means anything for people in strategy, it's normally the time of year when planning is abundant. And there's a million meetings to think about, what are all the things that we're going to do in the next year, two years, three years, whatever period that they're thinking about. So really, that's why we wanted to start this episode and have a special episode about annual planning because it's certainly something that everybody's going through and going to be top of mind for each organization, for the most part on a calendar year format. So, we'll go through ask questions, talk about it, then we'll kind of roll through the questions as we need to. So, I think one thing that people think about as they begin their planning processes, I have a million things I need to get done. But where am I going to start? So, the question I'm going to pose to the group is, when you think about planning, or when you work with organizations thinking about planning, what is the very first thing you think they should do?
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:05:11]:
Set aside time for it actually put it on their calendars. I've had so many folks that I've talked to recently where they say, Oh, we know that our fiscal years ending in, you know, two months, but we just don't know when we're gonna get started on planning for our next year. So maybe we'll do that in February. And I'm thinking February already going to be two months into your new fiscal year. So, let's say it takes two months for you to plan, you're not gonna actually be executing on it. So, four months into your fiscal year, so put it on the calendar, and put it far in advance in on your calendar. So, you actually have time to sit down and do it. That's the number one thing I see people not doing right now.
Joe Krause [00:05:46]:
into, I would agree 100%. On that, and also setting a timeline for when planning is going to end. Some people start their planning process, and it just goes in perpetuity because they'll have an hour long meeting or they'll say, Yeah, let's instead of having one full day, why don't we just do a couple of one hour meetings and see how it goes from experience we've seen, especially during COVID, we helped with a lot of planning services, what would usually take place in a normal six hour on site meeting with lunch and all that ended up being typically eight to 12 individual meetings that ended up having to be on the call to be set aside. And so cannot stress the importance of getting in a room setting aside the time, like Lindsey mentioned, getting in a room, and also saying we got to be done to this by a certain date and hold yourself to it. It can't just keep going in the hopes of getting the perfect plan or getting the most insights, do your best to get everybody involved. But you've got to stop at a certain point so that you can focus on execution like Lindsey mentioned.
Jonathan Morgan [00:06:43]:
Yeah, great answers. And I'm actually gonna take it a little bit different direction. I didn't even think about those, which is shame on me. But I think most people often think about their plan as what are all the things that we're going to be doing? And forget what have we done? And how did those things go? So, I think an important step that kickoff planning is to make sure you're doing a thorough recap of previous planning cycles, previous results, understanding what went well, what didn't go so well, what results we hit what we didn't hit, and ultimately why those gaps were there between planning and execution. Because that can begin to identify not just what are the things, we're going we're going to do, but what are the process changes that we have to make in order to make this year successful?
Joe Krause [00:07:26]:
In that process, that retrospective can be done a lot more efficiently. If you spend the time putting KPIs in your plan, we spend a lot of time to clients talking about the importance of measurement. Because if you're trying to do a retrospective, you don't have measurements, then it's going to start to sound more emotional. Yeah, I think we had a good year, we got a lot done, versus the idea of Oh, actually, we had a good year. And let me prove it to you. And so, the goal here is that you're making the end of the year and retrospective be more look more like a math problem. These are the four metrics that were really causing issues for us. And for our customers, we were able to fix them with these initiatives. Therefore, we had a good year, versus literally projects we got done. But these four KPIs are still in a really bad spot. So that concept is difficult for folks. So, the idea of just picking a couple of measurements, at least something there's something always you can measure. And then that will help you with what Jonathan just mentioned. And Lindsey I'm sure you've experienced plenty of times with it's difficult to get folks to commit to a metric, they'll say we can't do a bait. We don't have a baseline; we don't have a target. What have you seen helping folks like just finally create metrics that they're tracking to make their planning efforts better?
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:08:34]:
Like you read my mind, Joe was going to talk about this and the customer that you and I are working with currently, where they keep telling us Oh, well, we don't know what this is yet. We have to figure out a baseline, we know that we have to do a certain number of things. But we don't know what we're doing right now we have to figure that out. And the problem is they want to keep doing that every year, they want to establish that baseline every year. And they don't have a shutoff point for themselves and saying, okay, fiscal year 20 fours are your do the baseline. But after 24, we're going to do that retrospective that Jonathan is talking about see what was our baseline and we're going to use that for the next year. The problem is they're just continually saying we have to figure that out. Yet got one year to figure it out. And then we need to go off of that baseline number is one of the biggest things I see. So, I know Joe knows exactly what I'm talking about with this where they keep saying, Oh, I have, I don't know what it is we have to figure out it's like, okay, do that for one year. But after that one year, no more, we have to figure it out, you have it figured out go based off those numbers that you see.
Joe Krause [00:09:27]:
And that's what ends up being nice. By the way. I mean, ultimately, you could have some sort of target to shoot for you don't you're looking for a baseline. What that essentially means is that you're looking to see what the appropriate target is. If we want to have X amount of applicants from this sort of demographic, we need to then you know, potentially get to a certain target. There are ways that you can just look at a benchmark for somebody in your industry and say we need to be above at least 60% in this measurement in order to be deemed good. And then as you're developing the baseline then you can set targets, so you don't you don't completely have to disregard the whole base. slant setting, but a lot of folks feel comfortable spending that time getting the baseline before they sign their signature on a target. But for those that maybe are a little bit more, I want to get going with this, you don't always have to go from baseline to target, you can just say we need to be above this benchmark that is universally known as a good gold standard. As long as we're somewhere in that range. We're good while we develop a baseline. So, it's a little bit of a hybrid approach. So, you can go either way.
Jonathan Morgan [00:10:25]:
Yeah, we've navigated into an interesting topic that I think a lot of people struggle with, particularly in the planning cycle, and then therefore that impacts execution. So, I'd be interested in getting your thoughts on kind of general issues and set and problems are how we set effective metrics and KPIs. But before I get your thoughts on it, tell you a little bit where I'm coming from my experience with most organizations is they struggle with this problem, because they either have no metrics whatsoever, or they have 1000 metrics. And there are super tactical metrics. And when you're trying to uncover how is our plan being successful, you either say, I feel like it's doing pretty good. Or you say, Hey, look at all these million metrics that we accomplished, as opposed to, in taking the approach of leading and lagging indicators were the leading or more activity based and the lagging, or the more outcome based at the topic or plan. What else have you all seen with planning when it comes to KPIs and metrics?
Joe Krause [00:11:22]:
The idea of too many is interesting is you don't see that too often. You people think they have too many when they have like a Business Intelligence platform. And they'll have all this data feeding in a good example would be or any hospital in your neighborhood, I went to one out in Oregon a number of years back, and it was a beautiful lobby, and on the wall, they have these humongous TV screens, and they had a scroll of all the different metrics and how they compare against their competitors. So, wait time, sepsis, infection rate, all this stuff that you probably would care about, was there, they probably had waited a little bit, maybe 20% Too many metrics. But in general, it was in context, it also took the extra step of saying, Here's where our number is, here's where our competitors are, and not every single time where they better than their competitors. That was an interesting and refreshing remark. It wasn't a cherry pick numbers. For the most part, they're very good health systems. So, the majority of their numbers were the best. But they'll say here's our here's our cards here there on the table. And it was easily accessible in the most public setting. So that was an interesting thing where they say let's pull the band aid off. And let's just actually track on it. The part that was missing, if I saw that the substance rate and infection rate was too high, there were there wasn't a good connection between that and what they're doing to do, what countermeasures are taking. So, we talked about that a lot. The qualitative and the quantitative. They got the quantitative handled, but then they were skimping on the qualitative. And so, as a result, you need to have both. And I'm sure, Lindsey, you've seen that quite a bit where without both it starts to create a little bit of a muddy waters.
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:12:48]:
Absolutely. And I think to your point, John, there's not a lot of folks that have too many KPIs that I've run across recently, most of them, it's they don't have enough that they're trying to track, and they can't figure out what are those key things that they need to do. And sometimes it's the person who is creating the plan, they feel like they don't have the ability to choose this as what are most important KPIs, or they feel like it needs to come from somebody else. And they need to have a way of saying, This is what I've, you know, I've examined the landscape, this is what we need to focus on. And they need to feel confident saying this is what I think we should focus on. Because they're thinking this has to come from the CEO, it has to come from the board of directors, and they aren't giving that recommendation. And that's a piece that I see missing a lot of times, a lot of folks, they know the answer to the question. They want validation. And yes, this what they should be doing. So, they need to say, Hey, this is what I would like us to do. And here's the reason why. And they need to present that to the board or the CEO, whoever it is, is going to give the final say on those KPIs.
Jonathan Morgan [00:13:44]:
Yeah, I think throughout this conversation, there's been a lot of mentions around all the different people involved in these metrics and kind of who needs to provide their input, which leads to I think, another issue that many people face. When you're planning, you certainly need to have involvement across the organization. But you can't necessarily always listen to everybody in the organization and implement everything they do they want to do, or else you'd have an endless plan that you'd never actually be able to accomplish. So, based on in your all's collective experience, plans you've seen be successful, who should be involved in that planning process? And maybe at what stage of that process?
Joe Krause [00:14:19]:
It's the old age old question we get every day, should we do top down or bottom up? Right? That's what I'm gonna love to say. But there's a third option, which is a little bit of both. And I know it seems like a cop out answer when somebody says it depends, or you should do a little bit of both. But honestly, there is a lot of wisdom in the idea of moderation in all aspects of life, quite honestly, but also in planning. So, when I say a hybrid, what that looks like, is that the top down folks, we call them, the architects, right? The people that there's a subset of people that have disciplinary knowledge or subject matter experts in their respective departments. Those people need to get in the room and to sit down and really distill down the world of what could be done and distill it down to an actual bite size. You know, four to six items and that isn't some easy thing to do. If you somehow had 50 people in that meeting, there is no way you're drilling down 100 items down to two, six or four, that's just not going to happen. But where people make the mistake sometimes is that they just do that in a vacuum. And then they just say, Okay, here's what we're working on and go do. And then the people that are at the bottom, or the other parts of the organization are like, Why are we even doing this? That's a stupid idea. So, the idea is to at least start the process with a smaller group, and then begin to shop the ideas with the larger group and take some of their input, with the caveat that not every single thing that somebody is going to provide as an idea, or a suggestion is going to make the cut. But you have to if you're going to involve them, you can't you have to have it be greater than zero. Sometimes people will meet and do all these things. And the plan looks exactly the same as it did before they met. And that will have a boomerang effect. That's pretty negative. So, the idea is start small include, then some other folks make some changes where appropriate, and then you have yourself a decent situation. But I know, Lindsey, from your experience, what's the what's the right amount of people and people ask us all like, who should be in the room? Who should I invite to this achieve at kickoff? How have you navigated those conversations?
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:16:05]:
Yeah, and a lot of it is, to your point, thinking about who are the people who are going to have a say in actually doing the work. So, I like to equate it to a lot of times when I work with this county, and people are doing updates, and they fill in potholes, and they say the person who is filling the potholes, they're not gonna be the person that decides I'm only going to fill 10 potholes today, they're going to have that idea of we need to fill 50 potholes. And here's the reason why we need to fill those but the potholes so a lot of it comes down to the why and being able to explain that why to people, right and understanding that I'm doing this because it's helping the overall good if I had to give an exact number. So, let's say in an organization, I had to put a number to it. I would like to keep it between five to 10 people and not really having it beyond that. Because we get to those points where there's just too many folks in the room and nobody wants to make a decision. So, we need to have those top decision makers. So, you know, maybe the CEO or the president, whoever it is that can give the final say on it. The people that are the head of those departments who can then communicate that information down. So, if I had to put a number, I would say between five to 10. But to Joe's point, it depends a lot of times depends on the size of the org depends on the size of the plane to a lot of times.
Jonathan Morgan [00:17:09]:
Yeah, I think your…
Joe Krause [00:17:10]:
Facilitator, sorry, it's stepping on you there. But you served as a facilitator many times, how have you seen the dynamic change? Because people can do this on their own right, they can get the 10 people in a room and then one person might lead it, but then their personalities, maybe like one person has a big personality or oversized role? And it's hard to do you as a facilitator, how have you seen that be effective, and getting those 10 people to actually walk out with something? Because if the risk is they, might you walk out of the room with nothing? Because there's too much conversation?
Jonathan Morgan [00:17:37]:
Yeah, I think you definitely have to do kind of bits of each of those, you have to have some level of like phases of planning, where there are going to be those five to 10 people in the room that are ultimately deciding this is our as Final of a planet, you're going to make it but there needs to be effective pre work done before that with the individual teams. If not, you get into those rooms, and everybody's starting to think and communicate their ideas for the very first time, you know, I think affect the most effective teams not only are planning ahead of time, but they're also beginning to communicate those ideas across teams to understand, hey, what are things that we're doing that we can work on together? Or, Hey, I think I'm really going to need support for this great idea. What concerns do you have, so we can go ahead and talk about it ahead of this official planning meeting. So, getting everything prepped ahead will just make it easier for that conversation. And then having an agenda and keeping it on track. I mean, that may be table stakes. But what typically derails those sessions is the conversations that just go on endlessly. And there's always going to be those voices in the room, they're gonna want to have an opinion on everything. And that's okay, as long as it doesn't derail the conversation. I think,
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:18:47]:
To that point, Jonathan, we need a strong facilitator in the room, right. And you might think that that can be somebody internal, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen either of you go on site with a customer and they say, Oh, my gosh, you got this done in a day, it was taking us six weeks, we couldn't make any decisions. And it's all because you are a third party, non-bias person in the room, you don't have any, you know, feelings towards one person where you're not going to take their idea or not. And that just helps speed things up. So having that strong facilitator that a lot of times is non bias. Third party is a huge thing. That's gonna help folks.
Jonathan Morgan [00:19:20]:
And also, I think one last thing
Joe Krause [00:19:21]:
As well, sorry, Jonathan, the idea that, that that facilitator that you choose also has no bias coming into it, because a lot of times I've seen, facilitators that might come in that are particularly from the balanced scorecard Institute or this, that and the other. And sometimes it's a much bigger conversation around frameworks and how we're going to track things in the future versus actually making a plan. So, you have to pick somebody that ideally, is there to make sure that after whatever time period that day, or the two days that a plan is created, everything else is secondary. The other stuff can be taught afterwards. But all those people in a room that's such a rare thing, and to spend like half your time talking about the virtues of a particular planning methodology. algae can actually have the opposite effect. So be really choosy and who you choose as your facilitator and really understand what their lens is coming in. And if they are going to be espousing a book they wrote or some other event planning methodology, you might want to look elsewhere because sometimes that could derail?
Jonathan Morgan [00:20:17]:
Yeah, absolutely. Great point. Let's fast forward a little bit. Let's say we kind of get the right people in the room, we identify what we're going to do. And we're going to finalize that plan a little bit ambiguous of a question, but how Final Do you think that plan should be when you actually roll it out? Like, do you make sure everything's 100%? Buttoned up? Is it, you know, we just need to get 25 50% of the way there. And we know we're gonna have to make adjustments, what have you seen be successful.
Joe Krause [00:20:44]:
The ideas don't need to be fully formulated, you would think at least 80% Or better, but the part that has to be 100% done is the responsibility matrix. Due Dates, cadence of accountability, we call it the five elements every plan should have, that's a non-negotiable, the dates, the responsible parties, all the things I just mentioned, the ideas will shift, and change based on the year based on feedback based on results. That that's something that you have to reserve the right to do. So, people get a little scared when I say that, like, What do you mean, we're going to change our plan as we Why did we spend two days in a room? We're just gonna change the plan from time to time? Well, that's just how it goes. I mean, you’re sitting in a room in January, predicting what's going to happen in July. I mean, you hope you're right. But many times, you're not going to be right. Or maybe you're right for the wrong reasons, or something actually changed the business in a variety of ways. I've heard use cases of big, large microchip companies, because that's a very disruptive market. They meet quarterly as an executive team and look at their plan and make changes to it as a matter of practice, where they're going through the entire plan and saying, does this all make sense? If it does, it's a short meeting. If it doesn't, they'd spend that time then to revamp and change. So, they're, they're committing to that quarterly. Do I expect every one of you listening to do that? That's a lot. But the idea that the plan that you end with looking like the plan, you start it with, that is not doing yourself any favors, if that's actually what you end up doing. Because you're telling me that you somehow in January predicted the future for the rest of the year. That's a, that's a tough, tough task. And if you have a lot of you have a lot of folks that can see into the future on the call, please send me an email, and we'll make some big money on the lottery together and all that great stuff. But just keep in mind, it's not an indictment on you being a bad person by not being able to predict the future. It's the idea of spotting what works earlier and spotting with that is not working earlier. So, the Jonathan's point, the ideas 80% need to be shaped up but the scaffolding around those ideas 100%.
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:22:36]:
Agree Joe and I are working with a customer right now. He's actually going to go do a plan facilitation for them in November. And they were asking like, what are the levels that we're going to have built out in our plan? Are we going to have everything built out in our plan? And they kind of answered the question for themselves as they're going through this because they say, Okay, we're gonna have our four priorities, that those aren't changing for the year, those are set our four priorities, and then we have the goals that are going to support those. But the thing that's going to change and this can be added in throughout the year, are the strategies that support those goals. And so, they ended up answering the question for themselves by actually telling Joe and I, well, those get added in throughout the year. So, they answered the question, we're not going to have the plan fully built out, because we don't know what those action plans are going to be that are going to support those goals, those are going to come up throughout the year as things are changing. So, to Joe's point, it's like the structure, the base of it is 100%, but know that it's going to change. I always say success is a moving target. And so, we have to make sure that we are continuing to be successful throughout the year.
Jonathan Morgan [00:23:32]:
Yeah, I think, for the most part Long, Long gone are the days of three to five and beyond that your plans, unless you're having really long term initiatives, and most plans are going to cap out at about a year, because you know that things are going to change pretty dynamically. And I tend to agree, I think 75 to 80%. Sounds about right, where you have your maybe those high, low priorities aren't going to change for the year. But you know that those strategies on a quarterly or a couple times a year are going to actually change. And that's why you need to track it throughout and understand that how things are performing through the execution so that you know when and how to make those modifications.
Joe Krause [00:24:10]:
And to take that point a little bit further, if you're watching the news over the past week, I mean, the two biggest Evie makers in the country, Tesla being number one with way up there. And then Rivian is a kind of an upstart they have a couple of billion in sales. Well, they had probably had a plan going into the year and was doing pretty well with their items. And then all of a sudden, Tesla said, Hey, we're gonna slash the prices of our models, model wine, all that 30% here, 38% there. As you can imagine, it puts a complete dent in all that other competitor company was trying to do. So, I'm sure based on the news today, that Ruby is going back to the drawing board and they're using that event as something to potentially change the way they're going to look at their strategy. So, think about how many times you have a similar event maybe happening in your organization, and you utter the words that are the most dreaded words in planning which is let's just see how it goes. If something doesn't feel right, or something looks like it's a sea change in your industry or organization, gather everybody together and least have a conversation about it, you might choose to not make a change. But you'd be remiss to not have that conversation. I see a lot of folks sometimes avoid the conversation because they don't want to have to create a new plan. And it's a lot of extra work, but you have to do it. Otherwise, you will be caught flat footed, which nobody wants.
Jonathan Morgan [00:25:25]:
Yeah, well, kind of keeping an eye on time and making sure we don't keep our listeners too long. Let the regulars in a couple of different episodes. One thing that I think that obviously, plagues, planning is kind of all the mistakes that happen that people maybe didn't anticipate. There's a ton of them, but I wanted to get your input on what is one mistake, maybe it's the most common, maybe it's the biggest that companies regularly make with planning.
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:25:54]:
Say not putting enough time into it thinking that they're going to be able to get it done so much shorter. And then when it starts taking a really long amount of time, they don't ask for help. So, there's been too many instances where somebody said, if I just had you from day one, we could have gotten this done so much quicker. So, notice that and recognize the amount of time it's going to take to do something and that it's okay and almost better to pull in somebody from the outside to help you with that planning.
Joe Krause [00:26:19]:
I would definitely agree it takes longer than you'd expect, unless you have the right facilitator, sometimes it can be shorter, but if doing it left to your own devices, it always takes longer. It's the idea of the planning fallacy that we learned about doing our project management stuff. It's we always kind of put an optimistic spin on how long things are going to take. How long does it take me to run errands this Saturday? Oh, an hour. But you have to go to five places, they're all across town, there's no way it's going to take an hour. But that's usually how our brains go. So, the idea of not being conservative with how long things are going to take. But one problem that I do see, though, is I do spend a lot of times helping our client’s wordsmith, what things they're working on in their plan, where they'll put something in the plan, that's very vague, it'll say, like, reporting tool. Like, what about it? Are you creating one? Are you finding one? Are you rolling it out? Are you training people on it? So, making sure that there's a verb in the name of the thing you're working on? It seems very elementary, but I promise you that verb is missing 80 90% of the time, super vague. And if I'm looking at the plan, and I'm not in the department that it's impacted, I would have no clue about what they're working on. So, the litmus test I tell people is if somebody from a different department were to come in and review your initiatives, would they at least be in the general ballpark of what you're working on? Based on what you wrote out? If the answer's no, spend a little time wordsmithing. And it doesn't need to be a paragraph, which I'm at a sentence, but a really well defined sentence that explicitly calls out what you're doing no need to be brief on that. Because if the goal is to get everybody organized on what we're working on, you can't have half the people not even understanding what that other half is working on. So just keep in mind that that is time well spent. And honestly, quite a large amount of the time that I spend with clients, helping them build their plan is helping them wordsmith the various items.
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:27:55]:
So that people in the same department will say, I don't know what that means. So, you could even ask somebody in your same department, do you understand this? And if they say, No, then you need to, to wordsmith it to just point bingo. Yeah, I'm gonna
Jonathan Morgan [00:28:07]:
cheat and do too. But I asked the question. So, I can do that. I think the first one some numbers and metrics guy is going back to having that right balance between leading and lagging indicators, that is example that always comes up from a personal standpoint is you wouldn't go into your news resolution to be a healthier person and have no way to measure that. And you wouldn't say that you're going to measure that success by how many, just by how many calories you've eaten, or just how many times you're going to exercise, you're going to have some higher goal, and then the activity that combines to actually measure that progress. Are you doing the activities? And are you getting the results? That's something that people often miss, and they're planning, and having that balance really can help them not only drive the outcomes, but progress throughout the way. And then second, I think comes down to communication. We talked a lot about planning, but I think people put so much emphasis on communication during planning. And then they say, here's our plan, and it stops. So, people are going to lose that excitement if you don't continually talk about it afterwards. And help them understand how things are progressing. The things that you said were so important, the things that they said were so important. They don't just vanish into thin air. All right, well, we'll wrap it up here with the last question we typically ask all of our guests is same last question. So, we will do a very similar question, where instead of advice on our own career, if you have to go back, you know, based on everything you've learned Lindsey and Joe and your careers, and you were kicking off a planning process that started today, what is one piece of advice that you would give yourself?
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:29:45]:
I'd say ask questions. Make sure that you have clarification on things don't just go with it. I know so many people, they said oh, we used an outside facilitator before, and they said it was fine. And now I'm asking the question they're realizing that it's not fine what they have setup in place. So don't be afraid to ask those questions and make sure that there's clarity.
Joe Krause [00:30:06]:
And for me, I think a book that really spoke to me a while back is the book called range why generalists triumph in a world of specialists, it's the idea of if you are going to be a true good strategic planner, that's going to make the best plan, you have to have a situational awareness of pretty much every department and what they do. Do you need to be an expert in every single area? No, but if you're the person that's trying to have a conversation with all these different disciplines, and you don't really have a good understanding of how engineering works, or your product, or whatever it may be, it limits you so taking the time to Lizzie's point to ask questions, but really embed yourself in your different aspects of your organization. And truly say, I'm here to learn and listen and do it. And it's not a one-time event, right? You might spend a day or two with the department and then maybe every quarter, spend some time with them to truly know what they're doing. It helps build trust with the people that you're working with. And it helps you be a better facilitator if you're choosing to do it internally. Because you're speaking the same language as everybody in the room and you're really appealing to them. If you do that, I've seen that be very effective in starting a planning cycle. Because when you speak, people will listen.
Jonathan Morgan [00:31:12]:
Yeah, I think we all have similar but difference though, one way that I would add is to go into a planning process. And of being open to things different. I think it's important to plan ahead of time, but if you go in with his agenda is like, Hey, these are the 10 things that we have to do. All that's going to come from that is long discussions, confrontations, as opposed to really being open to you know, as Lindsey mentioned, asking those questions, but also being open to the answers and how that may impact this idea of the future that you think is correct. So, making sure that you're flexible, not just after the plan is created, but flexible during that plans creation to kind of have a cohesive planning process.
Joe Krause [00:31:51]:
Jonathan Morgan [00:31:53]:
Perfect. Well, we will have to do many more of these in the future because I know we could have gone on probably for a few hours talking about topics like this. So, both Joe and Lindsey, I very much appreciate your time and looking forward to chatting again soon.
Joe Krause [00:32:07]:
Lindsey LeFaivre [00:32:09]: