Review process: the importance of getting feedback and buy-in in advance.

The holidays are upon us.

Everyone is reviewing 2016 and planning for 2017.

Fred Wilson gave his advice on the year-end planning process today.

I really liked it.

If you’re in business (and I believe most us are nowadays, regardless of whichever career we’re in), I highly recommend you read his post.

Fred Wilson ‘s key pointers are:

  1. The annual planning process should start early (e.g. Beginning of Q4)
  2. The planning process should be grounded in the business’s strategy, which should obviously be set in advance (if a strategy adjustment is required, that needs to happen prior)
  3. The team needs to do the plan as a group, involving a set of regular meetings (planning is a team effort and a plan can’t be handed down like a handoff)
  4. Plans should have less focus areas (I.e. Between 3 and 5); the more you try to do the less you get done
  5. The budget should align with the strategy and the plan, not the other way around (don’t plan by the $)
  6. The plan should be developed by identifying and determining the key priorities of the strategy
  7. The team should get multiple previews of the plan as it is coming tother to get feedback and buy-in well in advance of the final approval process

I really like this last one (#7).

I think it applies to absolutely everything.

Anything involving a development process and requiring approval, should be reviewed by the team throughout its development.

Especially when there are multiple stakeholders.

This strikes a chord with me because this was the most important part of the process when I was building digital products for top wealth managers.

Whenever anything required an approval, we would schedule a set of regular meetings and invite all approvers and stakeholders to attend so they could review and provide feedback.

That way, when we would request approval, nothing would catch them by surprise and we would already have their buy-in.

I can’t stress how important this is.

Especially if the team is big (I would sometimes have groups of 50 approvers and stakeholders — product, tech and ops — so you can imagine how valuable this review process was to get everyone to sign off).

And as Fred Wilson said, all plans, and deliverables in general, end up changing and evolving; that’s how things work.

That's a byproduct of getting that buy-in in advance.

But the companies adapt and they do just fine.

And the whole point of that plan or deliverable is to get everyone on the same page anyway; whether it be a year-end plan, strategy, budget or BRD.

And that review process does just that (gets everyone on the same page).