sara canaday holly greenMore Than a Minute had been on my reading list for a while, but it was serendipitous that I chose to pick it up when I did.  I was in the middle of preparing for a workshop entitled “Setting Goals and Performance Standards” and without fully realizing the topic or the depth of information it offered, I cracked open the book and plowed through it in a matter of days.

Had it not fit so wonderfully with the workshop I was creating, I don’t know that I would have been motivated to read it in its entirety, or in such a short amount of time.  Because, despite its title, which to my way of thinking indicated a concise desktop reference sort of book, More Than a Minute actually presents a wealth of information.  The scope is more akin to a full semester in business school than a quick, thumb-through read.

Granted, the topic of strategic planning doesn’t seem terribly sexy.  But Green manages to make it read more like an article from “Fast Company” than one of my dated business school textbooks. And thank goodness, because my memories of strategic planning in the corporate world conjure feelings of pointless exercises and futility: lots of work in a condensed period of time resulting in a strategic plan, performance goals and tactics that sat around gathering dust for the rest of the year.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I think Green knows this is likely the case for many, so she passionately urges her readers to keep the process alive:

  • to broadcast and measure key strategies and performance goals
  • to align and, if necessary, realign initiatives
  • to “operationalize” team and individual accountabilities
  • and (my favorite) to communicate the company’s goals and strategies in a way that inspires employees and helps them see where they add value

Her advice to focus on the active, malleable aspects of planning reminds me of this guest post on Bait, Tackle, Ice, Advice & Beer, in which Miki Saxon talks about focusing on “plan-the-verb” over “plan-the-noun”:

“It is plan-the-verb that distinguishes the winners from the also-rans and it is the verb that keeps you ahead of the competition.

Just as importantly, it is plan-the-verb that should be pushed down throughout your organization.”
And while I found the planning aspect of the book intriguing, it was the second half of More Than a Minute that really “clicked” for me.  This was the section where Green shifts the focus to true leadership:

  • Enabling others to succeed by giving clear direction and constructive, non-judgmental feedback
  • Coaching employees to success through consistent, honest and clear performance feedback sessions and developmental plans
  • Building trust and credibility with those you lead through authenticity and self-awareness
  • Tying everything you do as a leader back to the mission, vision, values and core goals of the organization

More Than a Minute is ideal for the entrepreneur who is leading (or would eventually like to lead) a rapidly growing firm or company.

Here’s why: Green provides a framework or infrastructure that sustains companies over time and in a rapidly changing environment.  The book is also a good read for executives who need a refresher course on a traditional, “old school” approach to strategic planning.

Overall, the book was useful for me and for the work I’m doing with clients.  I’m glad I took the time to read it, and I think the ideas Green presents will serve me well in several areas.

What’s your take on strategic planning?  How are you keeping the process alive in your workplace?