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AP welcome

Our first ever Annual Planning Day

As I mentioned in my last post, I am determined to be as organised as possible this year – it’s seriously the only way I’m going to be able to get everything I want to do done!

We usually plan quarter to quarter, which to date has proven to be very effective.  This year is my (and by extension the business’s) Year of Adventure and as such there are some chunky – and frankly some terrifying – moves we want to make.

It’s imperative that we map out all of those things so we can properly plan the next twelve months, giving ourselves the best chance of success in the process.  As a result, I booked the team out for a day in January to buy us the thinking time we needed to hatch a plan.

Jack (Delosa) very kindly said we could use his place for the day, which has stunning views over the water in Mosman – perfect for getting this inspiration cranking!  An added bonus was Bear the puppy, who demonstrated a fabulously can-do attitude when it came to cuddles and sniffing out the smallest trace of food.

AP Bear

AP Bear 2

I thought it might be useful to any of you who have strategy days coming up with your teams to share the sessions we did.

First up, I did a quick welcome and set out what the outcome of the day was – to have a good map of what 2016 is going to look like, and for us all to be inspired and aligned in order to make it all happen.

Session 1 – Personal Goals – 1hr 30 mins

Next, Ashleigh led a session on sharing our goals for the year.  I had given the team my headings – listed in this post – and they used them as a basis to identify what they’re each aiming for in 2016.   We went around the table one-by-one and each of us shared what our goals were.

I love to know my team’s goals outside of their career!  Firstly, as it helps all of us be more fully-rounded humans.  All work and no play and all that…  Secondly, it helps them and me to be accountable to making those goals a reality.  And lastly, as it means I can give birthday presents and thank yous that will move them closer to their goals – e.g: one of our past team members Emily had a goal of learning to surf, so we gave her a surfing lesson for her birthday present.

Part of this session also asked each of us to prepare a statement starting with: “It’s December 2016 and the three things I spend most of my time doing are…”  Then we listed three activities that we’d like to be doing more of by the end of the year.

Session 2 – 2016 overview – 1hr 45 mins

I took the team through what I see our top priorities being for 2016 as a business, our revenue and profit targets, and what the organisation structure should look like by the end of the year.

I allowed plenty of time for this session so I could break each priority down in detail – I had worked on the plan with the management team in advance, however some of it was news to the rest of the group.

I also think it’s really important to walk a team through financial targets, rather than just presenting them with numbers.  Ours are bloody ambitious this year; so spending time walking through the numbers, breaking down what comes from where and getting the group’s buy-in means that everyone sits a little more comfortably with them.  Of course, people are still nervous about stretching targets but this process makes them that bit more manageable – almost like we grip the target up together and tell it who’s boss!

AP whiteboard

Lunch – roast chicken and salads from Chargrill Charlie’s.  Key details here, people.

Session 3 – Big Ideas – 1hr 45mins

James got us into brainstorming mode with some brilliant optical illusions and tasking, then we each shared one big idea that we’d like to see the business tackle this year.

To whittle down which ones we wanted to look at in more detail, we were each given an imaginary $100 to spend on “ideas shopping”.  So we could spend our entire $100 on one idea, or spend $50 on one idea and $25 on two others.  It wasn’t the most useful of tools in this case, as the general consensus was that they were all worth looking at!  We agreed to scope out five of them over this quarter, and make a decision at that point on which ones we’ll coax into reality.

Session 4 – Quarterly Planning – 1hr 15 mins

Sarah took us through an analysis of the last quarter of 2015, and using this and the overall annual plan we pretty easily identified what our top five “rocks” would be for the three months ahead.

AP Sarah session

We work to Verne Harnish’s approach in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits (if you haven’t read it, READ IT – it transformed my business).  This means that each quarter we select five big things we need to make happen in the immediate 90 days following, then break down the individual tasks that we need to complete within them.

We also allocate a theme for the quarter and set a corresponding celebration to it.  As this is the Year of Adventure, we’re adopting one famous adventurer as our theme each quarter… starting with Indiana Jones!

When we complete all our rocks and hit our budget target, we’re going on a treetop adventure.  I’ve ordered some Indiana Jones hats that we’ll wear in our Friday meeting to keep the theme alive and kicking.  Will share a photo when they arrive….

Session 5 – Team Development – 1hr

At the start of 2015, we made our team learning a priority and started a weekly training and development session – just 45 minutes before our weekly meeting on a Friday.  It alternates by week between our Book Club and Street Smart Sessions – where we learn from another person on the team or an external expert about a particular area.

Eddie and Chelsea had canvassed the team on key areas we’d each like to focus on and had narrowed the votes down to four key areas.

From that, they prepared a shortlist of potential books and we took a team vote on which ones make it into Book Club this year – with the aim of reading at least one book a quarter together.

First up for this year is The AlchemistTechnically this wasn’t on the list but as our other book this quarter is very small, I used my executive sway to sneak another one on there.  This book should be compulsive reading for everyone – it’s essentially a manual to manifesting what you want from your life.

Rather fittingly, this print was our thank you for being able to use the house – the entire text of the book on one page.  So cool!!

The Alchemist print

We definitely got the outcome I was after in terms of having a big annual plan that everyone is onboard and excited about.

What I didn’t necessarily plan on was the huge morale and energy boost that the day gave the team.  Between the day out of the familiar environment of the office, the fun hanging out together and the brain collaboration, the team was bouncing off the walls on Friday morning.  “Energised”, “excited” and “pumped” were words on high rotation all day – which was just brilliant to hear!

AP team [oc

I hope this peek behind the scenes to our planning day will help you with your team strategy sessions….

I’ll tell you at the end of the year if ours worked.  😉

What do you think?

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