Today is the 1st day of a new year and it is even more special for us Malaysian because it is the year 2020; the year we are suppose to fulfil the Nation’s aspiration as a develop country via an agenda we grew up with – Vision 2020.
Over the 10 years since we started, neOOne have practiced without fail a year end ritual called PTY Retreat (Plan The Year Retreat). It has become not only a culture in neOOne but also an offering that started in the early years as a way to support our associates in to being a full fledge public workshop to help other entrepreneurs plan for their year. This method has been proven successful, so much so that two regular graduates of our PTY have taken upon themselves to adopt it and run it for their own organisation.
What we do in it is not much different than what others do in their own planning sessions. We do similar stuff like reflection, ideation and action planning. Maybe what differs is the way we string along these phases by using facilitation processes. Even that is not rare; albeit not common.
However, in my opinion, there is one thing that is unique that we have incorporated which we call Theme of The Year. Usually, it is an acronym that we can easily remember and sets the mood of the year.
Why do we do this? Why not just do the typical and settle for a list of actions to be done to fulfil a predetermined desired objective? Simple enough, right?
Well yes it is simple enough but yet not enough!
We found out that a To Do list often loses its soul very quickly. It doesn’t motivate us emotionally. Yes, it provides us with an effective roadmap but it feels dry and unfriendly. It is only inspiring because you want to have a sense of achievement by ticking off the items. It becomes mechanical.
If that is the case, why not marry the To Do list with the objectives of the year so that we can be reminded and motivated throughout the year. Well, that can be done yet we find the objective is too far away to be useful on a day-to-day basis. It is great to remind us of the end but not motivating enough for practical daily use.
In addition to all that, the other major aspect that a To Do list and a stated objective lack is the element of decision making. This is where Theme of The Year helps; as a decision making tool as well as a daily motivator and mood custodian.
Before that, let me first explain how we come up with the Theme of The Year.
As any planning session worth its salt does, it starts off with reflecting on past and current results. We next synthesise these reflections into insights we can learn from. Next we ideate on how we can improve and these can be part of the objective of the coming year. We also look at what we have not achieved and decide if we still want to achieve them. These also will contribute to the objective of the coming year. We also look at our achievements and decide if we want to achieve more or not. Once again, these becomes part of the objective of the coming years. Next we look at aspirations for the coming year and this is no connected to anything of the past. This is an unbounded creation time. This can be inspired by trends or just plain desire. We then decides on the objectives of the coming year. Typically, the next phase is ideating on the actions needed to achieve these goals and action planning them.
We add another step after the objectives are set. We look at all the objectives and come up (or allow to come up) with the theme that strings all these objectives together.
Without fail, when the theme is revealed and then agreed upon, the energy of the group shifts upwards. Have fun with the theme and try to come up with an acronym or abbreviation that is exciting.
The Theme of The Year allows us to feel the objectives and provides the mood for the coming year. The theme also allows us to assess opportunities that come our way through out the coming year. If the opportunities falls within The Theme of The Year, then it is an easy decision to take it on. If it doesn’t, more often than not, we let it go or modify it to meet our theme. With a theme, it is also easy to be reminded what the year is all about and it keeps us motivated through out. It also allows us to set new goals once set goals are achieved.
These three things makes us see The Theme of The Year as a compass; constantly reminding and directing our true north.
So, go look at all your objectives of the year and let the theme of the year pop out; making achieving goals less mechanical and more emotional., less depressing and more motivating.