The Horizons Planning Model

Over the past year, we noticed a few things.

  1. 30 days was too short a time to plan for. We spent almost as much time planning as we did doing work.
  2. Teams need a breather between the work. We needed some sort of break where we could evaluate the last period and develop the plan for the next period.
  3. We needed to ensure a better focus on working on the business rather than In the business.
  4. A desire for community and peer support combined with many opportunities to learn from peers.
  5. Virtual is tiresome.

So we decided to dump the calendar method – we think Julius Ceasar and Pope Gregory XIII came up with a pretty useful calendar system. Still, they knew nothing about planning in the 21st century.

Instead of using the month and quarter as a basis for our planning, we’ve moved to horizons and trimesters.

The horizon is the basic unit of planning: it is a 6-week period rather than 30 days (or 1-month) period. There are two of these in every trimester. Between each planning horizon, we have a two-week reset period. We’ll use that period to review plans and reset for the second horizon.

After each trimester, we’ll have a planning summit where we will reconsider the entire year, allowing us to plan from the future. These planning summits will be live and in person and will include opportunities to network and learn from one another.

We will have three trimesters a year with an extra long break at the end of the year (in deference to the Gregorian timing of the holidays…).
We think this will allow us to concentrate on planning while getting more out of it and allow us to build better businesses faster.

Here is how we create the Horizon Action Plan in Asana

What to do in the Reset Period

We’ve scheduled two weeks to reset your plan between the first and second horizons of every trimester. 

The idea behind these two weeks is to pause working on the business, review your performance over the last horizon and adjust your plan for the next horizon.

The general steps are:

  1. Reviewing your team’s performance in the current Horizon.
  2. Mark everything complete if you completed it.
  3. Note what you didn’t complete and understand why.
  4. Address any hurdles and opportunities.
  5. Adjust the plan for the upcoming horizon.

To make this easier, we’ve designed a process to support you. 

Week 1: Complete

Schedule a meeting early in this first week with your leadership team (it can be your regular leadership team meeting); this will be your Complete meeting.

In this meeting, review all the outstanding tasks and objectives, and mark everything complete that is done. 

What done means

  • Objectives were met according to the KPIs.
  • All decisions are documented and included in SOPs stored; everyone knows where they are. 

Review of the decisions made that do not require documentation. This will ensure that the entire leadership team is aware of all completed tasks and outcomes.   

Any objective that is not complete should be:

  • Moved to the next horizon (with a current horizon tag, so you know you carried it over).
  • Moved to the hurdles and opportunities list.
  • Removed because it is no longer relevant.

Next, you should process the hurdles and opportunities. If you can resolve hurdles immediately, do so; if not, create a plan to resolve the hurdle. Use the CESI tool to structure your thinking.

Decide which opportunities you want to pursue. If you have a lot, use the opportunity lever canvas to prioritize. 

Between meetings

Between meetings, you should solve any hurdles or quantify any opportunities that need solving or quantifying.

Week 2: Create

The objective of the create meeting is to make the plan for the upcoming horizon. In this discussion, you should:

  • Review the 365 KPIs and measure progress.
  • Ask the question: are you on track to accomplish these objectives? If not, what else needs to happen to get you on track?
  • Create supporting key results and tasks based on the 365 objective, performance from the last quarter, and actions from the hurdles and opportunities list. 

After the reset

After the two-week reset, you move into the next horizon of the trimester with a new, refreshed plan that will help you achieve your trimester goals. 

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