Annual Planning Session Step 1, check

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As an expansion stage VC with significant strategic and operational support services (a.k.a., OpenView Labs), we try to run the firm in the manner that we hope our portfolio companies will run their companies. It allows our firm members to get into the same annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily rhythm that we recommend to our portfolio companies (a.k.a., extraordinary execution rhythm).

Today our Operating Committee had its first of two annual planning sessions. Today, we reviewed our progress against 2009 goals and reflected on them, reviewed our aspirations (mission, vision, and values) and core strategy and considered making adjustments (we made one tuning adjustment), reviewed the teams and individuals, and made a list of possible 2010 goals that we will prioritize at our next meeting (we call it our December 2010 “release” of the firm, as this approach was once suggested by Jeff Sutherland, one of our Senior Advisors as similar to thinking through what the next major software release is going to look like).

The meeting was mind numbing, but unbelievably important. The progress that we made in the 4th quarter and overall in 2009 created some misalignments that we needed to discuss and address and the ongoing ideas that we have for bringing our firm to the next level continues to be strong.

Days like this are difficult to carve out from busy schedules and tough to go through, but they pay dividends in the short, medium, and long term, as they reconfirm long term focal points (aspirations and strategy), which helps the team stay focused on the long term, and they help to create the goals for the next year and the next quarter (which will be completed when we get back together next month).

Our hope and recommendations is that every expansion stage company goes through a process like this around this time of year, as management teams and companies get stronger every time issues and impediments are addressed and every time management teams get into alignment on focal points (long term through to short term).

If you don’t already have a day like this scheduled, schedule one…it will pay off quickly!