Why focus on the next 100 days?

Feb 12, 2016

Following the launch of the next 100 days podcast, Id like to take some time to explain why I believe focussing on 100 days is the right thing to do.

Annual planning is fine, but annual goals simply don’t give enough emphasis to taking immediate massive action, and making things happen. Focussing on one main priority and taking consistent action for 100 days can make a real difference.

The problem with calendar based planning,

Traditional goal setting is annual, some people advocate breaking this down further into quarters. While I see great merit in 90 day periods, and I firmly believe in planning for 90 days of execution, I’m not sure the whole thing should be driven by the calendar. Goal setting by a quarterly drumbeat? I’m not sure that’s the right drum beat:
  • It’s not necessarily the drumbeat my business follows. My business activities don’t fall nicely in line with calendar quarters
  • Think about quarter 3; It starts in July, right at the start of the main holiday period. My experience is nowhere near as much gets done in the summer as the rest of the year.
  • I need to respond to the needs of my business. If I discover something big I need to do in early February, do I wait to start it on 1st April? No, the next 100 days to sort it starts the day I find out I need to do something. The need to change doesn’t obey quarter dates!

Challenge existing thinking, don’t follow the crowd

Who says you have to have a plan every quarter anyway? The plan is great when you want to make things happen, when you need to run a campaign, when you need to systemise and automate, but sometimes business is full on, you just have to get out there, get in the zone, and do stuff. The sports team trains, designs tactics, game plans and so on, but when the game starts they just get on the pitch and perform. Sometimes its like that in business, when its manic you just have to get out there and do it.
Personally my year starts in September, and I don’t use quarters, I split the year in three:
     September to Christmas
     Christmas to Easter(ish) – They keep moving the date!
     Easter to Summer
Three periods of roughly 100 days (no it doesn’t need to be exact) with breaks in between and a bigger break in the summer. I’ve always thought of September as the time of year for new things, and that goes right back to being at school. The start of the new school year. School life formed a lot of our early mindset……Think about it. The first 20 years or so of your life were dominated by an academic calendar, it had some merits – learn, take a break, learn, take break……You were actually programmed to work that way, so why change that rhythm just because you are running a business.

Lets think about the next 100 days

There are 3 stages:
  • Plan, (5 days); where you work out where your biggest priorities lie, and focus in on the most important of them, the ones you are going to take action on. I aim to come out of this with a plan on a page that covers the what, who how and why for the next 100 days.
  • execute, (90 days); where you turn the plan into reality, take action, measure your progress and work to achieving the goal in the plan.
  • review (5 days); where you look back and take stock of what happened. What worked? what didn’t work? what are the lessons learned? Most importantly, go celebrate your wins.

The next 100 days planning framework video explains this further:

100 days isn’t an exact science, 90 days of execution is a guide not a rule. Reviewing the last period is bound to merge into planning the next, so combined they might not be a full 10 days. But there are some core principles.
Planning and review are essential, and you can’t skimp on these. You must give this the right amount of attention, it’s the most important bit of the whole system. Get away from the desk, away from the day to day, away from distractions – give yourself thinking space – the personal offsite. Regular readers will know the concept of the personal offsite is something I’ve been exploring for a little while.
Execution needs focus; focus on one area for a sensible period – 90 days is the right length of time to execute, shorter reduces depth of effort, and you don’t have the impact on your business you need. If you have a big marketing campaign you can’t rush it and do it badly. Much longer than 90 days you get diminishing returns by staying focussed on one thing,  there is a point you need to re-evaluate, work out what impact you have had, and make sure  your next 90 days of execution addresses the next thing that makes the biggest difference in your business.

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