How to Plan for 2021 and Hit the Ground Running

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Rahul Gedupudi

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How to Plan for 2021 and Hit the Ground Running

20/11/2020 Categories: ARTICLES

When doing strategic planning, here’s a big question that comes up every time: When do you start? Go online right now, and you’ll see articles saying that you should begin planning for 2021 in January 2020!  While this sounds extreme, it is valid to a certain extent. Starting in January 2020 is a little early, but the point is that you want to give yourself ample time to begin planning. Your plans for the current year set the foundation for the next year and beyond, so the goal is to have your planning done before the start of the new year. That way you can hit the ground running as soon as 2021 begins.  From a formal planning perspective, the ideal time to start would be toward the end of 3rd quarter (September or so), giving you time to prepare for the next year in the final quarter. Planning Approach Presuming that your 2020 planning went haywire due to the global pandemic and the subsequent global recession, planning for 2021 will undoubtedly be challenging. Yet it is still vital. As Benjamin Franklin said – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” One priority you need to have is making your business more agile. Our current business environment has illustrated the need for organizations to adapt quickly during unexpected market changes. The approach of reviewing the environment once a year and determining opportunities and threats does not work during this period of uncertainty. So, what does this mean for planning and strategy? The answer is in Adaptive Planning. Adaptive planning involves the following four fundamental principles: Start execution as quickly as possible . Monitor and respond to changes as they occur. Embrace uncertainty. Involve the entire team. Even though you’re starting 2021 with a plan, ensure that your entire organization knows that the plan is subject to change. Schedule regular planning sessions with your team to alter the plans as needed. Examine Past Performance Most leaders often focus on market, competition, and industry trends while planning. However, it’s critical to assess your wins and losses to improve future plans. One should undertake a detailed review of previous years’ goals and targets, then critique what worked and what did not work. Focus on evolution for what worked and revolution for what did not work. As a CEO, this is one of the main things I would like to focus on when my team and I are working on plans that involve a lot of organizational change. A good leader continually reviews past performances and focuses on identifying the reasons for failure: Bad assumptions, poor execution, or focusing on the wrong thing. Talk to Customers Understanding your customers’ needs and challenges is essential to the success of your business. As you prepare your 2021 plans, focus on what value you can add to your customers. Customer value

should begin planning for 2021 in January 2020! 

While this sounds extreme, it is valid to a certain extent. Starting in January 2020 is a little early, but the point is that you want to give yourself ample time to begin planning. Your plans for the current year set the foundation for the next year and beyond, so the goal is to have your planning done before the start of the new year. That way you can hit the ground running as soon as 2021 begins. 

From a formal planning perspective, the ideal time to start would be toward the end of 3rd quarter (September or so), giving you time to prepare for the next year in the final quarter.

mountaintop

Planning Approach

Presuming that your 2020 planning went haywire due to the global pandemic and the subsequent global recession, planning for 2021 will undoubtedly be challenging. Yet it is still vital. As Benjamin Franklin said – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

One priority you need to have is making your business more agile. Our current business environment has illustrated the need for organizations to adapt quickly during unexpected market changes. The approach of reviewing the environment once a year and determining opportunities and threats does not work during this period of uncertainty.

So, what does this mean for planning and strategy? The answer is in Adaptive Planning. Adaptive planning involves the following four fundamental principles:

  1. Start execution as quickly as possible .
  2. Monitor and respond to changes as they occur.
  3. Embrace uncertainty.
  4. Involve the entire team.

Even though you’re starting 2021 with a plan, ensure that your entire organization knows that the plan is subject to change. Schedule regular planning sessions with your team to alter the plans as needed.

working on time

Examine Past Performance

Most leaders often focus on market, competition, and industry trends while planning. However, it’s critical to assess your wins and losses to improve future plans. One should undertake a detailed review of previous years’ goals and targets, then critique what worked and what did not work. Focus on evolution for what worked and revolution for what did not work.

As a CEO, this is one of the main things I would like to focus on when my team and I are working on plans that involve a lot of organizational change. A good leader continually reviews past performances and focuses on identifying the reasons for failure: Bad assumptions, poor execution, or focusing on the wrong thing.

Talk to Customers

Understanding your customers’ needs and challenges is essential to the success of your business. As you prepare your 2021 plans, focus on what value you can add to your customers. Customer value should form a crucial part of your strategic planning, including what you develop and the services you offer.

Budgeting

While budgeting is a key part of planning, they are not synonymous. Understand that budgets focus on what you can spend – not your earning potential. Focus on your revenue as much as the costs. Start with revenue expectations and then determine the budget you need to achieve and even exceed those expectations.

Ensure that each of your leaders has access to 2020 numbers (budgets and actuals). Remember the lessons from COVID - There are many unwanted and hidden costs that you can do without. They just need to be brought up to light. 

working with charts

Planning Process

Before you huddle with your team for planning sessions, establish context. Meet your leadership team ahead of the actual planning sessions, communicate your high-level organizational goals, and summarize your objectives. This allows them to come up with plans that align with your overall objectives.

Ensure that the planning meetings are not interrupted. Since huddling in an offsite location may not be possible in the current environment, ensure you set up some ground rules: 

  • Share the objectives.
  • Let each leader collaborate with their teams.
  • Build a plan and list action items.
  • Realistically account for your budget with every new idea.

During the sessions:

  • Review the plans for each department.
  • Finalize everything as a team.
  • Determine action items and budgets.

After the session:

  • Document final goals and objectives.
  • Build an action plan.
  • Finalize budget.
  • Review and sign-off.

ipad hot tub

Determining What is Relevant

One issue that occurs when planning with a team is “idea clutter,” i.e., trying to figure out which ideas you should focus on and which ideas you should not. One way to do that is to ensure that everyone presents their action items/ideas using answers to the following questions.

  • Why is this action item needed? 
  • How does it align with our core values? 
  • How does it make the organization better? 
  • What is needed (costs, people, etc.) to accomplish this? 
  • What is the ROI? 
  • When can you commit to accomplishing that? 
  • How do you measure the success of that? 
  • Is it realistic?

These items should provide the appropriate context to make the right decisions to finalize the plans.

crossing the corona

At Kensium, we know how important these planning sessions can be; after all, I do them multiple times a year. I was proud to have an agile, adaptable team working with me during the onset of COVID-19, and we now have a better sense of what we can do better in 2021. That’s why I feel strongly that these planning practices need to be part of every organization, no matter the industry. 

Happy planning and have a successful 2021!

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When doing strategic planning, here’s a big question that comes up every time: When do you start? Go online right now, and you’ll see articles saying that you should begin planning for 2021 in January 2020! 

While this sounds extreme, it is valid to a certain extent. Starting in January 2020 is a little early, but the point is that you want to give yourself ample time to begin planning. Your plans for the current year set the foundation for the next year and beyond, so the goal is to have your planning done before the start of the new year. That way you can hit the ground running as soon as 2021 begins. 

From a formal planning perspective, the ideal time to start would be toward the end of 3rd quarter (September or so), giving you time to prepare for the next year in the final quarter.

mountaintop

Planning Approach

Presuming that your 2020 planning went haywire due to the global pandemic and the subsequent global recession, planning for 2021 will undoubtedly be challenging. Yet it is still vital. As Benjamin Franklin said – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

One priority you need to have is making your business more agile. Our current business environment has illustrated the need for organizations to adapt quickly during unexpected market changes. The approach of reviewing the environment once a year and determining opportunities and threats does not work during this period of uncertainty.

So, what does this mean for planning and strategy? The answer is in Adaptive Planning. Adaptive planning involves the following four fundamental principles:

  1. Start execution as quickly as possible .
  2. Monitor and respond to changes as they occur.
  3. Embrace uncertainty.
  4. Involve the entire team.

Even though you’re starting 2021 with a plan, ensure that your entire organization knows that the plan is subject to change. Schedule regular planning sessions with your team to alter the plans as needed.

working on time

Examine Past Performance

Most leaders often focus on market, competition, and industry trends while planning. However, it’s critical to assess your wins and losses to improve future plans. One should undertake a detailed review of previous years’ goals and targets, then critique what worked and what did not work. Focus on evolution for what worked and revolution for what did not work.

As a CEO, this is one of the main things I would like to focus on when my team and I are working on plans that involve a lot of organizational change. A good leader continually reviews past performances and focuses on identifying the reasons for failure: Bad assumptions, poor execution, or focusing on the wrong thing.

Talk to Customers

Understanding your customers’ needs and challenges is essential to the success of your business. As you prepare your 2021 plans, focus on what value you can add to your customers. Customer value should form a crucial part of your strategic planning, including what you develop and the services you offer.

Budgeting

While budgeting is a key part of planning, they are not synonymous. Understand that budgets focus on what you can spend – not your earning potential. Focus on your revenue as much as the costs. Start with revenue expectations and then determine the budget you need to achieve and even exceed those expectations.

Ensure that each of your leaders has access to 2020 numbers (budgets and actuals). Remember the lessons from COVID - There are many unwanted and hidden costs that you can do without. They just need to be brought up to light. 

working with charts

Planning Process

Before you huddle with your team for planning sessions, establish context. Meet your leadership team ahead of the actual planning sessions, communicate your high-level organizational goals, and summarize your objectives. This allows them to come up with plans that align with your overall objectives.

Ensure that the planning meetings are not interrupted. Since huddling in an offsite location may not be possible in the current environment, ensure you set up some ground rules: 

  • Share the objectives.
  • Let each leader collaborate with their teams.
  • Build a plan and list action items.
  • Realistically account for your budget with every new idea.

During the sessions:

  • Review the plans for each department.
  • Finalize everything as a team.
  • Determine action items and budgets.

After the session:

  • Document final goals and objectives.
  • Build an action plan.
  • Finalize budget.
  • Review and sign-off.

ipad hot tub

Determining What is Relevant

One issue that occurs when planning with a team is “idea clutter,” i.e., trying to figure out which ideas you should focus on and which ideas you should not. One way to do that is to ensure that everyone presents their action items/ideas using answers to the following questions.

  • Why is this action item needed? 
  • How does it align with our core values? 
  • How does it make the organization better? 
  • What is needed (costs, people, etc.) to accomplish this? 
  • What is the ROI? 
  • When can you commit to accomplishing that? 
  • How do you measure the success of that? 
  • Is it realistic?

These items should provide the appropriate context to make the right decisions to finalize the plans.

crossing the corona

At Kensium, we know how important these planning sessions can be; after all, I do them multiple times a year. I was proud to have an agile, adaptable team working with me during the onset of COVID-19, and we now have a better sense of what we can do better in 2021. That’s why I feel strongly that these planning practices need to be part of every organization, no matter the industry. 

Happy planning and have a successful 2021!