Ten Adams

The Language of Planning

September 16, 2020 | Strategy
Group collaboration

Annual marketing plans, quarterly strategic memos, weekly status updates, tactical agendas, briefs, proposals, blueprints … what does it all mean? And furthermore, what’s the point of these planning tools and dashboards when the world seems to change daily?

Our strategic minds have been focused lately on defining the tools and refining our processes to focus on what’s most important and using a common language to make sure we’re all on the same page. 

As marketing professionals, we strive to create work that defines us, so here are some helpful definitions to keep our work productive, lean and powerful. In a time of changing goals and COVID-culture, planning may seem fruitless, but we find that having the right tools and understanding when to flex can help keep campaigns in place and your team feeling less anxious.

Annual Planning

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? An Annual Plan is a 12-month cycle, and whether you’re on a fiscal year or a calendar year, planning for the future is essential to proactive management and growth. While there are cases when you’ll need to think beyond a 12-month plan (such as opening a new hospital, market development, service line research, or supporting a major capital investments) the yearly view keeps goals attainable and gives you and your team enough time to flex and adjust while still keeping your eyes on the prize. Keep your plans broad, but measurable, and be prepared with the research needed to explain why certain items are a part of the next year’s strategy.  

Quarterly Strategy Sessions

Once your Annual Plan is set, meet with your team quarterly to determine the specific strategies that will help you achieve the goals outlined in the Annual Plan. The quarterly strategy session also provides an opportunity to evaluate previous quarters outcomes, discuss current projects and incorporate new projects and initiatives into your annual plan. 

Manager’s (Director’s) Quarterly Plan

After the long-term annual planning and the mid-term strategies are set, creating the Manager’s quarterly plan is a critical step in ensuring goals are met and expectations are communicated. This document helps to translate the strategies defined in the quarterly meeting into the work of individual team members. 

Tactic Plan

Here’s where the rubber meets the road, and those lofty goals are executed through defined tactics and tracked and reported. This should have dates, deadlines and deliverables with production level milestones. Each item needs an owner, so the plan is accountable and constantly moving. Even though these tactics are helping the team achieve meeting the annual and quarterly goals, the strategic discussion isn’t needed on the tactic plan.

Weekly Status

Once a week, connect with key members of the team to discuss your current state, progress updates, and future plans. This meeting is critical to confirming the path that was charted during the annual strategy meeting. Keep the format short, and agenda concise. Update the previous week’s milestones and look ahead to the next 7-14 days. Weekly status meetings can be department wide, or focused to the smaller functional teams.

Got planning on the brain for 2020 or 2021? 

Let’s start the conversation. Our strategy experts are here to help you frame your plan and get you moving in the right direction. 


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