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Leadership starts by planning

Leadership starts with setting the direction and ensuring everyone is rowing in the same direction.

Leadership starts by planning.

Leadership starts with setting the direction and ensuring everyone is rowing in the same direction. I wrote about the rowboat metaphor last year but the direction the boat is rowing is the leadership is more difficult. You have to know where you are heading before you set out to row, regardless of the team on the boat.

At Searchspring we have employed a four-level approach to planning. The first is to set a “north star” that sets a two-year goal of where we want to be at the end of 2023. The second level is a set of four themes that we want to operate under. The third level is to have each department create 2022 full-year plans that point in the direction of the north star. These plans have 3-5 objectives that align back to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each team with all goals aligning to our themes. We then do Quarterly Business Reviews where we review the prior quarter, but more importantly plan the future quarter. The quarterly plans have projects that align to full-year plans so that over the year the teams achieve their goals.

 

North Star (top), Themes 2022, Department Plans 2022, Quarterly Plans 2022 - Searchspring pyramid

 

We share all these plans with the entire company under both our Open by Default core value and also because it is important that teams can see all department plans to better understand why we are doing what we are doing. The goal is that any team member understands how they are contributing to their team’s goals and then how those are contributing to the company’s goals. When employees understand how they are contributing they are likely to be more engaged and feel a sense of ownership.

Plans are arguably only as good as the day they are created and that is perfectly fine. There is absolutely no way our 2022 full year plans are accurate and it is why we have quarterly plans that back it up, but even if it is not accurate it is still important none-the-less. It points the boat in the right direction so that the employees can row, and they may make corrections along the way. The main goal is that the boat is pointing at the north star.

We are far from perfect and I am sure there are many employees that, even with our best process, are still disconnected or unsure how they fit in the overall goal of the company. You likely can always communicate better. Also, planning is exhausting and time consuming but essential, if you aren’t spending the time to lay out a plan then it is likely that your teams are not all pointed in the same direction.