Do you know why EOS Implementers get really excited during the holiday season? It’s because this is when the majority of businesses hold their annual sessions. And it’s not just us - stellar teams I’ve worked with over the years always get so fired up when it’s time to do their annual planning session. And who could blame them? Annual sessions give you that sense of achievement when you see how far you’ve come, and you get even more excited about the goals you can reach for the following year.
If your company doesn’t have annual planning sessions, you are missing out on a lot! Annual planning sessions can really boost your company’s growth if done the right way. The Entrepreneurial Operating System has a specific way of conducting annual planning sessions that not only ensure a productive year ahead but get teams fired up to hit the ground running for the following year.
Because of the name, you’d think that annual planning sessions are all about planning and looking towards the future. However, a huge part of the process is looking back, finding areas of improvement, and getting a sense of what worked and what didn’t. This is a painful process for a lot of team members because they may feel like this forces them to relive mistakes, remember inadequacies and open the field up to pointing fingers and passing the buck.
This is why the EOS process prefers a more positive approach to reviewing the past year. Team members are encouraged to share personal and professional greats for the year as a way to celebrate success. Not only does it make team members more open to the thought of looking back on the previous year, but it also helps the organization as a whole realize that they’ve made a lot of progress so far.
With EOS annual planning sessions, leadership teams are encouraged to conduct their sessions somewhere else - while the office conference room is good enough for L10 meetings and maybe even quarterlies, annual planning sessions can benefit greatly from being in a new and different environment.
A new location can serve as a chance for leadership teams to “get away”. In an office setting, team members can get distracted by tasks they haven’t done yet or deadlines they need to meet the following day. Annual planning requires your full attention and a change of scenery can help with that. It also helps leadership teams gain a fresh perspective on things and we’ve definitely seen teams get more creative when they’re in an entirely different setting.
I hear you. Desperate times call for desperate measures. What I find is that when you stick to the script of what creates a great annual session, you always get the results. Whether you have gotten the most perfectly serene outdoor session location, or you are still stuck in the breakfast room running your annual virtually, you can still get the high impact, deeply important work done. Do the best you can in terms of venue and know that even the worst venue can deliver a 10 out of 10 for firing the team-up about a breakthrough year and inspired and unified leadership team.
The Entrepreneurial Operating System uses a specific set of tools and resources to help companies gain traction and maintain organizational health. Nowadays, it’s not enough to go into your annual planning session and wing it. If you feel like your annual sessions don’t really set you up for a stellar year ahead, you can start using these tools and continuously review them all-year-round.
When it comes to annuals, the most invaluable tool is the Vision/Traction Organizer. The VTO helps organizations put their company visions into paper so it’s more digestible and accessible. Every quarterly and annual, organizations must review their VTOs to make sure they are still on the right track:
Two days may seem like a lot of time for your annual planning session, but keep in mind that you have an entire year to go over. A lot of organizations fall into this time trap and spend their 2-day sessions moving at a slow pace only to realize by the end of day two that they haven’t accomplished much at all.
If you’re having a hard time leading your annual planning session, or if you don’t feel confident enough to implement EOS in your next annual planning session on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email, call or text and get whatever type of help you need to make your annual sessions a huge success.
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