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My New Year’s resolution this year is to make a recurring “date” with myself for planning periods for my organization’s growth. I’ve found this to be challenging because:

  1. There’s always so much to do that I don’t know where to start
  2. It feels like there’s so much that I want to accomplish, so that actually putting it into a plan is intimidating
  3. I am a victim of imposter syndrome and don’t feel qualified to be some ambitious
  4. Planning doesn’t feel urgent – getting things done does. But, if you just get things done without planning, you end up getting a lot less of what you actually need to do done.
  5. It requires a level of clarity about what I want to accomplish. Thankfully, I’ve spent a lot of 2023 working on that, with the help of some great coaches!

Although it’s challenging, I know it’s probably the single most important thing I can do to help increase my organizational impact. By adding in these planning periods, I’m expecting the following benefits, which, to me, more than justify the effort. The benefits include:

  1. Growing my organizational impact. When I take the time to strategize and set goals, I’m looking at things from a hugely different perspective than when I’m an operator and doing tasks. Taking a step back enables me to create a goal with milestones along the way to make sure I’m guiding myself properly throughout the rest of my worktime. 
  2. Decrease stress by creating realistic expectations for myself. When I have a plan, I’m really good at sticking to it. But if I don’t have a solid plan, I always feel like I’m not doing enough, and that creates a lot of unnecessary stress.
  3. Keeping myself focused. I tend to have lots of ideas (I call this shiny object syndrome), but they can often take away from my organizational mission. I don’t want to be distracted easily.

So, I developed a “planning plan” for myself based on my experience working with others and seeing what works for different organizations. I thought I’d share it with you, as it seems to be a commonly useful technique for keeping organizations on-track and successful.

Before you start creating your own organizational “planning plan,” you do need to have a few things in place:

  • Direction and Mission - what are you planning to accomplish? You can’t get anywhere if you don’t know what your destination is.
  • A working theory of change – how do you propose your organization will go about achieving its mission? You need to be very clear what your value proposition is, both for yourself and the people you interact with.
  • OKRs: Objectives and key results define what exactly your organization is seeking to accomplish. Most organizations end up with an average of five. Much more than that, and you’ll be trying to do too many things and end up unsuccessful in many. Less than that, and you’re probably not being as impactful as you can.
  • KPIs: Key performance indicators are predefined and measurable and serve as an objective metric for your organizational performance.

If you don’t have these yet, you’ll need to develop them in your annual planning period so that the rest of your year will have maximized success.

There’s a general structure for organizational planning that I find works pretty much universally. However, although most of the organizations I work with implement planning periods, they all look quite different. You, your organization, and your employees are unique, and you’ll need to use your discretion with how you implement the planning structure. This structure can be used for employee performance reviews as well as operational management. 

Planning Periods Schedule

FrequencyObjectiveBenefitsLevel of DetailLevel of Strategy
AnnuallyRevise organizational theory of change, establish OKRs and develop KPIs, break down goals into quarters.Sets a clear, strategic, and actionable direction for the year. LowHigh
QuarterlyReview and modify OKRs as needed; break down core objectives into monthly goals.Aligns short-term efforts with annual objectives.LowHigh
MonthlyReview past month’s accomplishments and set weekly objectives for the upcoming month. Focuses on achieving goals aligned with mission. MediumMedium
WeeklyReview progress on monthly goals and schedule next week's goals and tasks.Ensures weekly tasks support long-term goals.HighLow
DailyReview agenda at the beginning and end of each day; modify for the next day and do prep work.Keeps you focused and on track, boosting productivity. HighLow


Strategic planning periods: The strategic mission of the organization guides these planning sessions. What are the goals you want to accomplish? Take a step back and look at your organization from the big-picture view.

Detailed planning periods: This comes from the operational perspective – what is the actual plan to get things done? 

I’m sure you’ve noticed that these goals go in order of high strategy / less detail to the reverse – that’s the approach that I’ve seen to be most helpful for integrating daily productivity with a strategic plan. You need to create the strategy and revisit it, while balancing the operational details that will implement the strategy you’re envisioning.

Yes, some of these periods will duplicate – you’ll need to do your quarterly plan AND your monthly plan AND your weekly plan at the same time. In those scenarios, you’ll want to start with the highest level of strategy and then work down to the most detailed.

I just finished my annual, quarterly and monthly plan, and I’m planning on sticking to this plan for 2024.  Join me in this challenge - I hope that by sharing this, it will make your year a little bit easier and more successful.

Here's to a calm, successful, and stress-free 2024!





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