“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision.” – Theodore Hesburgh

The Pressure of Planning

The pressure to complete the next project, reach the next production target, return the most recent 100 emails or just check all the boxes that are due by Friday can sound very familiar to most leaders in today’s business environment. The pressure of the immediate becomes all-consuming, and when it is time to devote energy to long-term planning it can appear to be overwhelming.

We know, as leaders, that if we do not devote time thoughtfully and regularly to longer-term goals, the press of the immediate will eventually starve the company of its creative and innovative edge. Getting the pressing work done is necessary, just not sufficient for the long-term health of the company.

A Framework of Intention – The 30 Day Window

When a project as large as making the strategic plan actionable becomes your leadership responsibility, it can be helpful to have a very concise way of making progress toward the vision in addition to completing all of the daily expectations. 30-60-90 days; 3-6-9 months; 1-3-5 years… is a framework that helps to keep the long-term goals in focus while the weekly obligations are met.

30-day activities are the stepping stones on which a long-term vision progresses from a binder on the shelf to a reality in the workplace.

Breaking down the insurmountable into manageable bites that can be completed, digested, and celebrated is the purpose of the 30-day window. The team members you lead are empowered to devote a small slice of time individually and together toward this manageable 30-day accomplishment.

You, as the leader, have a relatively easy job of checking up on something that is manageable and readily attained.

Thus, the first step toward making the long-term goals a reality is winning regularly with pieces that are singular in accomplishment and will eventually fit together in a bigger picture.

As the team has success with a few 30-day wins, it is then possible to set two or three (60 and 90 days) manageable activities into the future for the team to tackle. As this strategy and set of actions become the norm, you as the leader are building the capacity within the team to look further forward and bring the completed objectives into focus as intermediate objectives.

Cultivating Progress

3-month objectives can easily be described as the culmination and combination of that which has been accomplished in the shorter-term planning sessions. Obviously, over the course of 9 months, the team will have been able to accomplish nine separate activities that, when combined, meet the 3-6-9 month objectives.

Again, in such a construct there are multiple opportunities to build the capacity of the team and to celebrate their good work. Taking time to temporarily pause on the climb to “admire the view” that repeated longer-term accomplishments bring to the team is critical as a leader. These accomplishments should feel better as they are strategic and different from the tactical day to day work that demands so much of the team’s time.

As a year approaches, the combination of completed activities and intermediate objectives into a 1-year strategic goal that will be shared with the team members and company as a whole in the context of how it will positively impact the future. Over the course of three short years, 36 30-day activities which comprise the essential parts of 12 intermediate objectives, and three major strategic goals will be accomplished.

This will allow you as the leader to demonstrate the power of longer-term goals to the team and the organization.

If you want to learn more about how planning with intention can help improve your organization’s strategic planning, check out our other blogs here!