Progress reviews are critical to have in place and when done right will make delivering results easy
Company founders and owners who have a clear purpose for their business then create an exciting picture of what they want their company to be. They become the driving force behind the big plans, and hire teams of people to turn the plans into real results. As a company grows and matures, it needs a vision strategy execution process to keep everyone focused and on track.
The strategic goals really support the company vision and the action plans you create should enable you to achieve the goals. Sounds straight forward, right?
It’s Harder than You Think
As straightforward as it sounds to create action plans for each goal, companies struggle to achieve the results as planned – things rarely go perfectly. Let’s take a look at the reality that this is typically harder than you think.
For an individual who sets a goal, say to drop 10 Pounds in the next 90 days, they have only themselves to keep on track. They create an action plan that might include creating a new meal plan with better food choices, aerobic exercise 4 days a week, weight lifting 3 days a week, and plenty of water and sleep each day. Following this will require extra focus and discipline, and so they could hire a personal trainer to help them stay on track. Provided they stick to the action plan, they should hit their goal.
Strategic goals for a business require a lot more than 1 person’s focus and discipline. The action plans for each goal may have a dozen different names assigned to tasks, where each person will require focus and discipline to stay on track and do their part. Additionally, things are constantly changing and so while the action plan was a reasonable estimate of what would need to happen, the daily and weekly dynamics create new challenges to address. Even if everyone does their part, your results could miss the targets you set along the way.
The Progress Review Meeting Will Help
Pausing periodically to check results and progress is critical to give you feedback so you know if you’re on track towards your strategic goals or not.
For those of you familiar with the PDCA cycle, the progress review represents “Check”. Here’s how PDCA fits. In plan, you agree to the goals and write your action plans. Do means execute your plans. Check is to confirm whether your plan is sufficient or if you need to do anything else. Act or adjust is where you decide if you need to alter your plans, shift resources and priorities, or dive deep to crack some problem.
By scheduling regular review meetings, you will have a rhythm to your PDCA cycle and actively manage to make sure you end up handling all the challenges and surprises as they come along.
During the Wiremold Company’s aggressive implementation of lean manufacturing principles during the 1990’s, the progress review to CEO Art Byrne and his team was held weekly. Having been part of those review meeting and seeing how dozens of other companies prefer to execute their strategies, I’m convinced that these weekly progress review meetings had equal or more weight toward Wiremold’s success than any other element, including the hundreds of Kaizen events you have probably heard about.
Review Your Review Process
The first question for you to answer is, “do you have any formal progress review process in place?” If not please start right away, otherwise you could be adrift at sea without knowing if there is any hope of rescue.
Next, how often do you review progress towards achieving your strategic goals? Very few companies do so weekly the way Wiremold did. Even when they shifted after a few years to once every 2 weeks, the focus was clearly on the priorities across the company. Most organizations choose a monthly review meeting, as our company financials typically follow a monthly cycle.
Lastly, what do you do when thing are not on course? Do you continue on with the existing plans as-is, or do you make adjustments? At Win Enterprises, LLC, when we work with companies on their process, we help them to come prepared with the initial problem solving already conducted. Is the metric’s miss because the action items are not complete according to the action plan, or is something else going as you didn’t expect? If it is something else, what is the root cause and what countermeasure actions will you take to get back on track? This is the rigor of preparation I learned while I was at Danaher. It works well, which is why we’ve incorporated it into our Strategic Goal Development™ process.
As you review your review process and make adjustments I’m sure you’ll see better progress each month.