Prior to joining inVision, I had never participated in a strategic planning session. The 2015-16 session marked my second year (you can read about the process here). In a nutshell, during the session we develop the organization’s overall direction for the coming year. We develop objectives that address each goal, and action plans follow. Each team member takes a piece of the plan, putting their name on it and assuming responsibility for it. That doesn't mean that it’s up to you alone to accomplish it; it means that you have ultimate ownership over that objective and responsibility to make sure it’s completed successfully.
We've talked in various blog posts about the importance of setting the rhythm of accountability as part of the strategic plan. Basically, the rhythm ensures that the plan is kept top of mind and doesn't lose out to competing priorities during the year. During our monthly and quarterly meetings, we provide updates to our team members on our part of the plan. We put it all on the table – the milestones and challenges, the progress and delays.
What happened during this month’s meeting was a first for me. Why, you ask? Because I had to let my team know that I hadn't made any progress on my portion of our strategic plan. Talk about humbling. My other priorities (which we call the “daily whirlwind of activity”) had won out. I had let myself slip into that whirlwind, and it wasn't until the days leading up to our monthly meeting that I realized that I hadn't stepped out of it to focus on the strategic plan.
So with my admission out in the open, the time had come to step up and formulate a plan to get things back on track. I sat down with Wendy, my manager, to refocus and develop a clear set of actions to move the plan forward and hit the deadlines I had set for myself.
My point in all of this? In this case, our rhythm of accountability did exactly what it’s designed to do: it pulled me from the whirlwind, forced me to face the fact that I hadn't made any progress on my plan, and motivated me to get back on track with actionable items I could start tackling right away. Sometimes it’s tough to stay on top of everything; but the key is to step back, assess the situation, and take action. My original deadlines are still in place; now, it’s a matter of refocusing and getting down to work. Lesson learned.