Forget Quarters... Start Planning In Cycles

Ev Chapman
September 1, 2021
1 min read

18 months ago I was done with business planning.

We had tried ALL the things. Quarterly planning days, 90 Day Years, Yearly planning retreats. Nothing worked. We would start off gung-ho and ultimately fizzle out and accomplish very little.

Then I read Shape Up by the founders of Basecamp and everything changed.

Now we plan in 8 Week Cycle sprints. Each Cycle we start with a focus area based around a business pillar and we 'pitch' a bunch of projects that will help us level up in that area. The whole team gets involved in choosing which projects to work on and then for 8 weeks we put our heads down and do the work.

We have got more done in the last 18 months than any other time. So what makes 8 weeks so magical?

It focuses us. We have one rule during the 8 weeks, we can't introduce new projects into the mix. Which means we just get to work on what we chose to do. If anything shiny appears, we put it down to work on in the next cycle.

It's short enough to hold our attention. 8 weeks is short enough to not get distracted but long enough to get substantial work done. And if a distraction comes up we know we can pitch it for the next cycle (and that often motivates us to finish the current projects)

We are more aware of our capacity. We were chronic over-committers before this. We would try to take on WAY too many projects. But because we've run 9 of these cycles now we know our sweet spot.

All in all, Cycle Planning has helped us move faster and feel like we are actually making progress and moving forward finally!

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