January or February is the time when FP&A have handed off the spreadsheets for LOBs to create a waterfall plan from and execute against.

The first task is to ensure that you are creating a market, country, territory or account plan that you can execute confidently against. Here is an approach that works well:

Creating the plan is one thing, but executing it is the trick. I like to say that the plan is the potential and how you inspect and are held accountable to it is the promise. This second element is the difference between having to explain to your leadership/the board why you didn’t meet expectations, vs getting the gold medal for staying on the golden path to success.

After creating and committing to your plan, sit with your stakeholders and agree the following:

Operationalizing the plan

  1. Which elements of this plan are critical success factors?
  2. What are the leading indicators that prove you are executing the plan?
  3. Who will hold those responsible at each level of the plan, accountable? How? When? Specifically!

The answers to the above are simple, not easy. Here is why operationalizing it fails:

  1. There is no management operating rhythm with consistent inspection.
  2. There is a culture of, ‘Near enough is good enough’
  3. People behave like they are going to the gym, “I said I would do 30mins on the treadmill, but now I am here 20mins seems right for today.” This revisionism is why you need accountability at all levels.

Some pre-requisites:

  • Public commitment to the plan
  • Alignment on how to execute and measure
  • Transparency! Everyone should know whether the team and individuals on the team are on the golden path or are sliding off.
  • An agreement to no rewriting of the rules…