Seven Strategies to Avoid a Crash When Your Plan Hits a Roundabout

I don’t know about you, but last week sucked.  I mean sucked.

A close set of friends lost a loved one. Every time I turned on the news, my head exploded for more reasons than are appropriate to discuss here.  And my car was more than casually wounded in a roundabout.

It’s the last one that got me thinking about the importance of everyone being on the same page, staying in their lane, and reading the road signs.  Having a written, shared plan helps the growth of your business.  It provides direction and motivation in your personal life and for your financial wellbeing.  It makes the journey more exciting.

Well, it’s said we “make plans and God laughs.”  The same is true with roundabouts.  Whenever that sick French dude first designed and successfully pitched the first U.S. roundabout back in Washington, D.C. in 1790, there’s no doubt in my mind that God was on the floor, laughing out loud.  (Men in D.C. and their brilliant ideas!)

In theory, everyone understands how to read the road signs and can intuitively get through a roundabout.  The sign directly above your lane indicates you have one of two options – go straight or veer either right or left depending on which lane you’re in.    In the left, inside lane, you may veer only left or go straight.  When in the right, outside lane, you may veer right.  Just because there is a lane in the road that continues to the left does not mean you may veer left.  If you do, bad things happen.  Everybody’s plans for the morning go to… well, let’s just say, plans are completely derailed.

With any plan, when someone misunderstands the signs and directions, there may be a chance to pull back and brake to reduce the impact of the damage, as was the case on Tuesday morning.  Fortunately, I was able to detect a problem, react in time, swing back into the curving-left left lane, and brake.  There was still a collision.  Rather than the right nose of my fender landing in her lap, it landed in her driver’s-side rear door.  We both were able to drive our vehicles ahead, out of the roundabout, and eventually home, with no remarkable bodily injury save trips to the chiropractor.

So, how do we avoid these miscues, collisions, and difficulties in our company as we pursue implementing our plans?

I believe there are seven strategies that you can use to avoid a crash when your plan hits a roundabout:

  1. Have a Plan: As basic as it is, many companies do not have a plan.  If you fall into that category, it’s time to craft one.  Get in touch with your vision, goals, and values for the company.  Determine the best strategies for achieving that three or five-year goal.  Then chunk it down.  If you want to be here in three years, where do you need to be in two years?  By the end of 12 months?
  2. Right Size & Bite Size It: A one-year horizon is much easier for people to get their head around.  Bring the long-range goals into focus to concentrate on the annual goals and efforts.  You will be able to work better as a team to identify what the critical strategies and tasks are that need to be done to accomplish the goal.
  3. Devil is in the Details: Get very specific about what needs to be done.  Assign strategy champions and empower them to build the detailed plans, collaborating, organizing, and working with others to outline the action steps to be taken.
  4. 90-Day Plans: Expect your strategy champions to document and share a 90-day plan of those actions that will be taken in the next 90 days, including who will do what, who they may need to work with, consult, or inform, by when, and what evidence will be provided to prove that the task was done.
  5. Schedule and Hold 90-Day Sprint Reviews: Every 90 days, reconvene your planning team and key strategy champions to review the progress on the plan.  Each strategy champion should report out on the state of their progress, what may have changed since the last review, and what they are prioritizing as actions for the next 90 days.  Issues should be discussed and, if appropriate, plans updated.  Each sprint should conclude with a new 90-day action plan written by each champion.
  6. Monthly Strategy Huddles: For any given strategy, there may be a number of actions that need to take place for the strategy to work.  Each of these actions too has a champion, or someone accountable for making sure the tasks are completed by themselves and others, however it makes sense.  (Champions are not necessarily the “doers.”)  Each month, the strategy champion should be doing huddle check ins with their team to ensure that progress is being made throughout the 90 days.
  7. Weekly Huddles: In turn, best practices include short weekly huddles with the action team to ensure that particular tasks are staying on track.

It’s important to note that the weekly and monthly huddles are meant to be check in points, not long, drawn out painful meetings.  In a thumbs-up/thumbs-down way, the huddles are to verify that things are progressing, folks are moving through their lane, and it’s all on course.  If things aren’t on course, it’s the time to raise the hand and request help, outside the huddle, to raise, discuss, and resolve issues that may be causing difficulties.  Lastly, these also offer a great time to identify cross functional decisions to be made and make them – stay in your lane, go straight or veer, safely.

Each of these strategies sets a strong tone for a culture of teamwork and accountability.  Communications is at its core, as is remaining agile and alert as we support each other’s efforts.

We have a plan, that’s been communicated.  People know how to read the signs and move forward.  We get to our destinations unscathed and happy.

Here's hoping this week is better. 




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