Breakthrough performance is a quantum leap in results. It occurs when we do something different that produces a significant gain–of 50%, 100% or 200%. Breakthrough performance is about accomplishing far more in less time and multiplying your level of effectiveness.
To take your performance to a higher level requires personal leadership. And that means embracing change–in product offerings, prospecting, compensation, margins, compliance and disclosure. So, here’s the central leadership challenge: What do you change?
With all the noise about change, it’s easy to get diffused. Fact is, some things don’t change, like the fundamentals of high performance. These fundamentals are the same today as they were decades ago and will be the same for decades to come.
In a changing and competitive environment, the ability to execute is a competitive advantage. Top performers–whether athletes or business professionals–don’t necessarily have better ideas; they simply execute more effectively. What it takes to be great in our industry is no different.
Yet many advisors and firms constantly are searching for new ideas versus executing what they already know. Let’s face it: The best ideas and strategies are worthless unless they are implemented. The marketplace only rewards those ideas that get implemented.
Building the capacity to change and execute requires a process–an operating system that embraces the fundamentals of high performance and reduces the noise and distractions of the “latest, greatest idea.” This operating system must address not only planning and metrics but also critical aspects of high performance, such as accountability and commitment.
The system that we apply with our clients is called Periodization. At Strategic Breakthroughs, we have adapted this concept–an athletic training technique developed in Eastern Europe–to fit a business environment. We’ve crafted a 12-week approach to planning and execution that moves beyond training to focus on the critical factors that drive production and life balance.
Periodization is a business process and a structured approach that changes the way you think and act, and how you view time. The process eliminates the trap of annualized thinking–the illusion that there is plenty of time in the year, re-defining a year as 12 weeks. There’s not four quarters in a year; there is just this period and the next. A 12-week period creates urgency to act this day. Ultimately, execution happens daily and weekly–not monthly and quarterly.
Periodization is a critical part of the context for success. It creates a focus and urgency to execute in the moment. And its power derives from five disciplines: vision, planning, process control, scorekeeping and accountability.
Greatness starts with vision–what you want to create. We begin with what you want your life to look like three years from now and then what your business needs to look like to align with and enable your personal vision. This creates an emotional connection to the daily actions that need to happen in the business.
Effective planning allows you to think through the best approach to achieving your goal. You make your mistakes on paper, which reduces miscues during implementation. In addition, studies have shown that planning saves time. Planning also keeps you focused and on purpose.
How the plan is structured and written profoundly impacts implementation. Most plans are not constructed with implementation in mind and, therefore, break down during execution.
An effective period plan has three levels. First, the plan should identify the goal for the period, something we call a “strategic thrust.” This defines how much you will produce this period and how many hours per week you will work on average.
Once the strategic thrust has been clarified, strategies need to be determined. Strategies are the initiatives that, when effectively implemented, will lead to the achievement of the thrust. Typically three and no more than five are recommended. The concept is to be “great at a few things versus mediocre at many.”
To be effective, each strategy must be specific and measurable. For each strategy, tactics need to be developed. The tactics are the daily “must-do’s” that drive the attainment of the strategy.
Tactics, too, must be specific and actionable with due dates and assigned responsibilities. The period plan is structured so that if the tactics are completed on a timely basis, the strategy is accomplished and the strategic thrust is achieved.
A 12-week period plan is powerful; it allows you to focus on what’s important now. Keep in mind the period plan is not part of an annual plan; that’s annualized thinking. Twelve weeks is enough time to get things done and yet short enough to create and maintain a sense of urgency. Period plans provide a step-by-step road map that eliminates diffusion and delays and demands immediate action.
Process control is a set of proven tools and events that keep you on plan. Weekly plans allow us to structure our activity so that we are focused on both the long-term and short-term tasks that are important. The weekly plan includes the strategic items that are driven by the period plan.