Plan today for a successful year ahead
For most people, January heralds change – diets, Dryuary, dreams of summer. It can also be a time of new beginnings, including 2023 planning with new goals, strategies, initiatives and metrics starting at zero.
Yes, I can hear some of you saying, “You should have already had your 2023 plans completed.” True, but it’s not uncommon to begin those discussion in January. Here are some suggestions for getting started with your team.
Step 1: What lessons did you learn in 2022?
- Start by reviewing last year. Whether you met your goals or not, you and your team worked hard and probably learned a lot. It’s easy to forget what you did and lose some of that hard-earned knowledge that you may need to use again in 2023. If you “just do it like we did last year” then you create inertia, possibly even repeating the same mistakes.
- I used to have a boss who, after every marketing campaign or communications effort, would make me do what he called a “failure analysis.” Doesn’t sound great, does it? His thinking was it’s easy to identify and talk at length in glowing language about what worked. It’s much, much harder to force yourself to think about what didn’t work or what you could have done better.
So, start with the bad, the uncomfortable, the accidents, the lack of preparation and the mistakes, missed opportunities and miscommunications. This is not meant to be an exercise in self-flagellation; rather, it can help pinpoint obstacles, such as a lack of resources, budget or staff. You may realize that some efforts took more lead time, collaboration or tactics than expected. It might even tell you that the ROI just isn’t worth it, which may open up time and money for a new endeavor or a different approach.
- After you’ve done the hard bit, you can list what did work, what you should do again or what you can do more of this year. And it’s always good to end on a positive note. I’ve found that this process forces me to think practically about my team’s successes and cuts down on excessive back-patting.
Step 2: What do we need to achieve this year?
- Now that you’ve reviewed past efforts and learned from them, how do you apply them to the future? First, let’s pause and think about what exactly you want to achieve in 2023. Success can mean many things, but it all starts with your company or organization’s leadership. Has leadership – possibly including you – set out goals for 2023? If so, then you may know exactly what’s expected of you. At the very least, you now have a North Star to help you get started in the right direction.
Step 3: How do we get there?
- This is where collaboration is most important. You know where you need to go, but not how to get there. Start by asking your team to identify milestones throughout the year – events, campaigns, sales efforts, decision dates or projects that you and your team will be working on. These are things you know need to be done. Then, start a timeline. This is the “known” work. Did you do any of them last year? Remember where we started on Step no. 1. What worked, what didn’t, how can we do it better – always looking to our North Star to make sure you’re moving toward the goals.
- Now that you’ve covered the known work, what about the unknown? You can’t plan for everything, but you can be prepared for the unexpected – both crises and opportunities. Preparation includes looking at your processes, people and resources. For example, do you have a crisis communications plan that highlights risks and outlines what should be done and by whom? If one of your company’s goals is to get more media coverage, do you have someone with experience to draft and pitch positive stories? If you want to increase your social media presence, you’ll need staff to develop content, post, monitor, grow engagement and create guidelines.
- Prioritize your needs. It all comes down to time and money. What do you need the most? A PR expert? Another graphic designer? Do you have enough funds in your ad budget? Pick the most important needs and figure out how to obtain them and utilize them effectively and efficiently.
Here’s a quick reference:
- What worked in 2022? What didn’t? What could you do better in the future?
- Identify your goals for 2023, or at least determine your North Star to give you direction.
- What work do you know you’ll need to do? Have you done it before? What is the timeline?
- Do you have the processes and people in place to handle the unknowns and take advantage of opportunities? Get them in place if you can.