Have you ever met someone who was very successful and walked away thinking, “How did THAT person make it big?”
That’s not really the focus of this book, but it does focus on what is likely the biggest reason some people succeed, and others don’t. Execution!
This book challenges the traditional approach to annual planning / goal setting, calling out it’s many flaws and limitations. The biggest flaw is we often fail to ACT on long-term goals.
Typical annual plans/goals tell you what has to be achieved but doesn’t specify how. We seek the results but overlook the actions.
The premise of a 12-week goal is that we’re much more likely to EXECUTE on goals under a shorter timeframe, pushing us closer to our long-term goals.
- Critical first step: Create a compelling vision of the future you desire (long-term vision).
- Next, identify a 12-week goal that aligns with your longer-term vision.
- Identify the top one to three things (tactics) that will have the greatest impact on reaching the goal and pursue those with intensity.
- Spend the first 15-20 minutes at the beginning of each week reviewing progress from the previous week and planning the upcoming week.
- Keep a weekly scorecard where you measure execution (% of activities you complete each week), and results.
- At the end of 12 weeks, reassess your commitments and results and begin again.
The book leans heavily on the idea that it’s not knowledge or great ideas that drive progress, it’s actions. Great companies and successful individuals execute better than their competition.
This book confirms something I’ve always believed. Bonus plans focus too heavily on results, not enough on actions. You have greater control over actions. Losing 10 pounds is a result. Going to the gym 3 days a week is an action. Measure both, but remember it’s actions that drive results.
Benefits of a 12 Week Plan (versus annual plan)
- More predictable than long-term plans (which include a lot of assumptions)
- Easier to define what actions need to be implemented.
- More focused (annual plans often contain too many objectives).
- Greater urgency (less time to procrastinate)
- Easier to commit to 12 weeks than a year or longer.
80/20 principle is applied here. Too many goals can become overwhelming. Focus on the minimum number of actions that are required to hit your goal. Key word: FOCUS!
Strive for excellence, not perfection. Completing 85% of your activities will likely put you close to your goal.
If you manage a team, get their input and buy-in, and ensure they own the goal jointly and individually. Meet with the team weekly to review.
Hold team members accountable, but view accountability as feedback, not consequences. If goals are not being reached, determine why and work with the team member to make improvements.
Ideally, you want team members to measure themselves and report progress. If they rely on you to track results, this indicates a lack of ownership on their part. Accountability must involve ownership.
Of course, consequences may apply when tactics aren’t being executed, as opposed to strategies being ineffective. Either way, having a plan and tracking measurements allows you to identify and address the reasons.
To minimize distractions, the author suggests blocking out time each week to devote to important tasks.
The author defines “intentional imbalance.” You can use this program to focus on different areas of your business or life each 12 weeks, but it must align with your longer-term vision.
Execution of strategies involves CHANGE. Why is change hard? Immediate gratification! Given a choice, people choose immediate and certain short-term comfort over potential long-term benefits almost every time.
When your perception of the magnitude of a big change shrinks (ie. 12 weeks vs. one year), you are more likely to take action
Use Week 13 to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Celebrate wins with your team. Then start another 12 Week Year.
Quote from book: “Vision without action is just a dream.”
Click HERE to listen to my interview with the author of The 12 Week Year, Brian Moran.