Planning season is in full swing at Double Forte and the 2020 plan ideas are flying thick and fast in all of our brainstorms and planning sessions. A new annual plan always starts with so much opportunity and optimism: “What if?!” and “We could…!” and “Imagine that…” 

And then the hard part starts: deciding what to take OFF the white board, what to focus on fully, and what to leave on the wayside. Some people call planning “where cool ideas go to die.” We call planning, “where cool ideas get doubled down.” 

Now is when we separate the wheat from the chaff, honing, honing, and honing some more to get to a plan that will deliver business results that matter. Business results we say “cool!” to a lot. In the end of the planning process we erase a lot of the colored ink on the whiteboard and stack up a lot of sticky notes with good ideas on them to leave the few initiatives that we can double down on to make a difference.

Why Double Down in Planning?

We need to double down on the best ideas because everything takes longer than we want it to. More time and more effort goes into programs that seem effortless from the outside. “Effortless” is what we all strive for because that’s where traction happens. And traction requires planning, time, practice, rehearsal, and effort. And it’s better to do fewer things really well than more things mediocrely (or worse).  (Our version of the famed Peanut Butter Manifesto.) Traction never happens in mediocrity. Never. So we plan for focused effort that drives traction. (Here’s a good way to focus on your owned content.)

3 Steps To Planning For Impact

After you’ve had your planning brainstorms and ideation sessions and the plethora of random thoughts, we recommend:

  1. Select every idea with serious potential to deliver the results you seek. And then rank them from most likely to succeed to least likely to succeed.  However many items you have on your list, remove the bottom half of the ranked list. 
  2. Now assign time, effort and money required to do each of the remaining initiatives well. For example: 3 months with 4 people, 10 months with 2 people, $50,000, $10,000. Round up. You will see that not everything is created equally in terms of what it takes to accomplish. Now assign an ROI score to each item – 1 for worth it, 3 for not worth it. Rearrange your rank list based on the ROI score. 
  3. Double the cost of each initiative in terms of time, money, and effort. What fits into what you have available? Where are efficiencies to be had? What are building activities that other initiatives will benefit from? Keep rearranging until you have it. 

Planning well takes practice, confidence, pragmatism and  ingenuity. Be diligent about not trying to do everything – you can’t. And that is where excellence is found.