Annual planning isn’t the major event that it was years ago. Organizations are recognizing that they must have quarterly planning reviews with the expectation that changes will be made to plans, that projects may be cancelled, and that new initiatives approved. Nonetheless, the annual cycle cannot be completely ignored. Goal-setting will still occur on a yearly cycle, and project funding will be set on that same cycle. Both may be subject to review and adjustment, but the annual cadence is relatively stable — with good reason: financial regulations are generally based on fiscal years; practically, it’s a reasonable window to plan for that balances long-term goals with short-term tactics; and it serves to flatten variations in seasonal cycles in industries that are subject to those trends.
As a result, in many organizations there is an annual planning cycle that focuses on goals and funding, supported by a quarterly cycle that aligns projects and work with those goals and funding.
This is also how we tend to structure our project work. There is a rush to complete project deadlines at the end of a quarter, and in particular at the end of a year. I’ve been involved in those crazy days in December where everyone is rushing to get the work done early enough that they can still enjoy a break over the holidays. I’ve been one of those people who
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