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First 90 days … then what?

January 4, 2011

I’m in a new role and like any new role, the first ninety days are important. Not that there is anything special or magical about ninety. It could easily be the first eighty days or hundred days. Ninety days is easy to plan for though. It is three months.  I know, I know. You’re thinking “wow, what value from this post. I now know ninety days equals three months!”.

Those first ninety days are important because you want to establish the tone for your new team, get that mission/vision (or dare I say “manifesto” – see post of December 18, 2010) ingrained and create some quick wins to keep the momentum going. In my new role we’re creating a brand new team from people previously associated with eight or nine other teams (some of which no longer exist in the new world) with an entirely new vision for what it is we do as well as new approaches for how we do it. Expectations are high. That’s why these first ninety days are key. If we don’t create support for our vision, the vision will be lost. If we don’t create confidence for our team members in their roles in the new world, our team will be lost. And if we don’t create some quick wins, our customers will be lost.

With that in mind, I have a ninety day plan. It outlines who I need to approach and what I need to share with them. It documents how each member of the team is linked to our vision and my expectations of them. It clearly enunciates what the quick wins are. It even documents what I call the “wars and battles to be won”; all of the issues, concerns, barriers and roadblocks to success I need to jump on and solve. That’s all in the ninety plan. It is a specific roadmap, bit by bit, mile by mile, towards success, however we have defined it (and yes, that’s defined in the plan too!).

But here’s the rub. It lasts ninety days. Not ninety-one and certainly not seven hundred and twenty. I’m assuming our company will last at least that long and I’m hoping I will still be in the role, so why not a one year plan, five year plan or even a ten year plan? Where’s that plan? Why so much intensity on the first ninety days? Don’t your staff, your partners and your customers want you to be just as intense in the ninety days following the first ninety days and then the ninety days after that? Aren’t your competitors just as hungry to eat your lunch on day seven thousand as they are on day seven?

So this is what I am thinking. I think I need a rolling ninety day plan, updated at the end of every month. I want every day on the job to feel like the first day without the questions about where do I get stationary supplies and who I have to see to get my security badge. Every ninety days is critical, especially in this fast-paced, ultra competitive world we live in. The first ninety days are not the most important ninety day period of your career or your company or your team. They are important in a new role. But guess what? So are the next ninety days after that. There is never any time off. My plan ensures my focus will never waver. It ensures my energy will always be high. It ensures I am always productive. Maybe I will call it the “Infinity Plan”, even though I won’t be around to see the end of it.

See you on day ninety-one. I’m planning on it.



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