Mary Culley

By MARY CULLEY

Summer’s a wrap. September brings shorter days, crisp air, and an important reminder that it’s time to fire up the annual planning engines!

Getting a jump on 2015 planning isn’t easy. There are current-year projects and customer initiatives to complete before end of year and revenue targets to hit. Your calendar is peppered with new product meetings, quarterly business reviews, candidate interviews, and executive off-sites.

However, investing time today to think about where you are headed—and what is possible—will increase your probability of exceeding goals and delivering transformative change in 2015.

Strategy execution isn’t something that other people should worry about while you are doing something far more important.Jeroen DeFlander

Why start annual planning today?

Ask yourself and your team: are you satisfied with the business trajectory? Can you articulate how you will take your business to the next level in 2015?

Effective leaders focus in early 4th quarter on assessing the business, scanning market opportunities, and formulating a winning game plan for the upcoming year. Today is the day to imagine and plan for a breakthrough performance in 2015.

Early and thoughtful planning for 2015 will enable you to:

  1. Identify innovative and defensible ideas to fuel the plan

Typically, planning cycles are time crunched and don’t allow adequate time for out-of the-box thinking. Allocate dedicated time now to ensure productive and creative ideation.

  1. Gain cross-functional buy-in and commitment

No one wins or loses alone; there are countless cross-functional dependencies. Provide visibility to key stakeholders early to drive alignment and address potential issues and opportunities. Socialize and gather feedback on your plan. Stakeholders will be invested in and want to be part of the winning game plan.

  1. Influence the conversation/agenda

Timely socialization of your plan also gives you visibility to emerging corporate initiatives. With this new insight, you can affect the direction and success of these initiatives. And you can ensure your plan aligns with the future vision of the company.

  1. Grow personal brand as a strategic leader

By energizing and aligning your team to execute on an innovative plan, you position your team for success. From a professional credibility standpoint, you become the “go-to” resource amongst your peers on planning best practices.

  1. Get the budget and headcount resources required to execute

Last, but not least, is getting the resources you need to make your plan a reality. A concise and compelling plan—with a specific “ask” and business case—is the first to get funded.

Get started today

Are you fully satisfied with the business trajectory this year? Are there big opportunities in your business that are not being addressed? Get a jump start on your 2015 annual plan today to increase probability of exceeding your goals in 2015.

A goal without a plan is just a dream.Dave Ramsey

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