Let's talk about 90-day plans.
🤔 Why you should care about it
"To overcome these barriers and succeed in joining a new company, you should focus on four pillars of effective onboarding: business orientation, stakeholder connection, alignment of expectations, and cultural adaptation." - Michael D. Watkins, Canadian Professor of Leadership and Organisational Change, in The First 90 Days.
There are always tremendous expectations on professionals taking on a new leadership role, especially when only some are rooting for the selected candidate. Successful technology leaders use 90-day plans to help them set expectations, establish credibility, and demonstrate their commitment to succeed in their new position.
Slow Progress —> when taking on a new role, even with a structured onboarding, there are so many people to meet and information to absorb that leaders get lost in the process and take too much time to deliver results.
Lack of Focus —> it's tempting for new hires to accept all meeting requests and start addressing issues at hand, but it increases the risk of spreading efforts too thin or tackling the wrong priorities.
Lack of Alignment —> team members, colleagues and stakeholders don't adapt to new ideas and align towards a goal independently. It could take several months if they do before they can
A 90-day plan is designed to help a new leader better understand the role, communicate expectations, and create momentum by achieving first successes. A typical 90-day plan should be structured as follow:
Month 1 - Investigation
- Meet key stakeholders to understand the company's goals, priorities, and immediate concerns or needs.
- Review existing systems, processes, and technologies to assess their strengths and weaknesses and identify areas for improvement.
- Spend time with team members to assess their strengths and weaknesses and identify areas for improvement at the organisational and individual levels.
By the end of Month 1, the goal is to have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the stakeholders' objectives and the team's environment and to identify areas for improvement and potential solutions.
Month 2 - Communication
- Share a clear organisational vision with team members and stakeholders, including expected actions and attitudes.
- Develop and communicate detailed objectives to the team and individual team members.
- Create a detailed implementation plan, including timeline, resources, and roles and responsibilities.
By the end of Month 2, the goal is to have a solid plan to reach the company's objectives and establish clear lines of communication with all stakeholders.
Month 3 - Action
- Implement new systems, processes, and technologies, including upgrades and optimisations.
- Put in place training programs at the team and individual levels, ensuring they have the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to achieve the team's objectives.
- Monitor the success of new systems and processes and make any necessary adjustments to ensure they are meeting the organisation's needs.
By the end of Month 3, the goal is to implement new systems and processes successfully and to communicate on first successes.
💡 Key Concepts
Strategic planning —> defining an organisation's direction and allocating resources to achieve short-term goals aligned with its long-term objectives.
Momentum building —> creating a sense of urgency and rapid progress towards achieving specific goals, which helps to drive continued success and focus.
Organisational Alignment —> ensuring that goals and initiatives are consistent with an organisation's overall strategy, values, and objectives.
"90-day plans focus too much on quick wins and immediate results, avoiding hard or challenging objectives." —> by setting achievable goals in a short time frame, a 90-day plan can help establish a track record of success that you can leverage to tackle more complex objectives.
"No plan survives first contact with the enemy." —> 90-day Plan is not meant to be a fixed and inflexible roadmap. Instead, it serves as a guide and a starting point for action to provide focus and direction.
"90 days are not enough to achieve anything tangible because of resistance to change." —> the key to overcoming resistance to change is to involve team members in the planning process, communicate extensively and show initial results to build faith.
📚 Top book
The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter - Michael D. Watkins
🗂 See also
📝 Top content
This 90-Day Plan Turns Engineers into Remarkable Managers - David Loftesness via First Round Review.
The First 90 Days® - 5 key questions for your new role - Michael Watkins
Your first 90 days as CTO or VP Engineering - Will Larson
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