Tuesday, December 22, 2009

100 Day Plans

This article at Fortune.com describes the culture and management practices at a small boutique innovation consulting firm in NYC called Fahrenheit 212. While much of what is described may only be applicable in a start-up environment, the "100 Day Plans" that the firm employs seem quite interesting and more broadly applicable. Writer Nadira Hira explains:

"Every 100 days, everyone gets together, locks the doors, ditches the cell phones, and sits down to a company-wide strategy session. Together, they set the company's goals for the next 100 days. And they go around the table to hear how each staffer -- execs included -- did on his personal deliverables over the last 100 days. They ask each other questions, weigh in with their own perspectives on their colleagues' work, and do lots of ribbing, reflecting, and cheering. And if the fear of being embarrassed in front of rowdy colleagues weren't enough, staffers work directly with their managers to lay out their individual plans for the next 100 days and actually grade themselves on their last 100-day plan -- and at the end of the year, the scores are added up to help determine incentive bonuses and future compensation."

Why do I love this practice? First, it moves away from strategic planning as an annual exercise that's more about creating piles of documents than it is about candid dialogue. In a fast-moving world, it seems much more appropriate to revisit the strategy every three months or so, and to do so via a vigorous open dialogue as opposed to "death by Powerpoint." Second, this 100 days exercise creates a powerful sense of accountability, with people being held responsible by their peers, not just their bosses. Third, the process promotes transparency, which ultimately has many positive effects. Finally, the meetings provide opportunities for prompt feedback, giving people time to engage in corrective action as they work on projects... rather than waiting until a year has passed and the project is complete before hearing any formal feedback.

1 comment:

peter said...

Thanks for the positive feedback. All of the benefits you cite are spot on; the 100 Day Plan approach has really proven to be a real asset for our young company. One that you alluded to but I would like to highlight is that the 100 day plan approach enables us to course correct 3 times as fast as the competition in turbulent times. In 2009, it enabled us to be focused yet nimble and helped us achieve a strong year while the competition faltered. Thanks again for the nice words. All the best. Pete