Annual Planning- Done

Scott-Maxwell-500 by

OpenView completed its annual planning yesterday (I have written about the process previously and I am describing our process in the hopes that it sheds some light on how the annual planning process works so that young entrepreneurs can gather some useful ideas. We put a lot of time against trying to execute our approaches using “best practice”, particularly our management rhythm, where we use agile scrum practices as our guide. As venture capital advisors with strategic consulting services for our portfolio companies, we try to execute what we hope our portfolio companies could use as a model).

On Wednesday, our Operating Committee met and hashed through our final annual goals for the firm and for the individual teams (this was phase II of the process). The meetings were messy, as they always are, but we had a great conversation and debate and committed the firm (and each team) to a number of really good SMART Goals that are well aligned with our aspiration (mission, vision, and values) gaps (what we need to achieve to better express our aspirations through results). Our Organizational and Operational team then took the results from the day and produced some templates for the entire firm to further develop on Thursday.

On Thursday, at our firmwide meeting, each team reviewed their results from Q4 against the Q4 goals, we presented the firm goals for the year, and then each team took their team goals for the year, validated that they could achieve the goals and were committed to them, prioritized them for the year, and then developed their team goals for the quarter. The final session of the day was each team presenting their goals for the quarter to the entire firm.

Overall, the sessions accomplished what we set out to accomplish and I expect that we will wake up Monday morning truly ready for the year ahead, as we have both our annual and our quarterly goals locked and loaded. At this point, we will shift into our weekly/daily rhythm for the quarter, which is all about developing and executing against initiatives that will create results against each of the goals (at some point, I will give more detail about how our weekly/daily management rhythm works).

At the end of the quarter, each team will check their results against their goals for the quarter, reflect on quarter (the good, the issues/impediments, and the adjustments that they believe will increase our velocity), compare where they are to the annual goals, and develop their plans for the next quarter. Then, the Operating Committee will review, adjust, and commit to the plans followed by a full firm meeting for each team to present their results from the prior quarter and goals for the following quarter.

Why do this type of planning and create this type of management rhythm? Shouldn’t you just focus on creating and selling your product? Frankly, the investment involved in this type of work early in the year is pretty high and there is quarterly/weekly/daily management “overhead” associated with it, but the alignment and energy achieved by having everyone in the firm excited about achieving results, moving in the same direction, and not distracted (by all of the possible goals that we have already discussed and decided not to work on right now) will pay huge returns throughout the year.

The process would have been much cleaner if we had information system support for our goal setting process, but we have not yet found a really good software product to help us with the approach (we use VersionOne to help us execute our quarterly, weekly, and daily rhythm once the goals are set and Central Desktop as our collaboration platform [both are portfolio companies, their products work extremely well for us, and I highly recommend them], but we don’t have a great technical support system to help the goal setting process yet.).

Overall, I am really satisfied that we are locked and loaded and really happy that the plans are completed…at least for now…