From the Sleeve
A guide to creating results through focus, commitment, and accountability.
The 12 Week Year is a process forged in the field of sports, used by world-class athletes and transformed for business and everyday life by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington.
The 12 Week Year incorporates the proven disciplines and principles of effective execution into the context of 12-week execution cycles. In the book, you’ll discover how to develop clarity and focus on what matters most and a healthy sense of urgency to get it done.
About the Author & Context
Brian P. Moran has over thirty years of expertise as a CEO, corporate executive, entrepreneur, consultant and coach. His background as a corporate executive combined with his experience as an entrepreneur positions him with a skill set to help individuals and organizations prosper.
Michael Lennington is Vice President of The Execution Company. He is a consultant, coach, and leadership trainer, and an expert in implementing lasting change.
This New York Times Bestseller was published in 2013 as part of the wider coaching offerings by Moran and his associates. It has become a must-read in business circles and is a popular choice for management companies to profile and discuss.
The following are the main takeaways we’ve extracted from the Book of the Month. Click on the theme to read more.
In the opening chapters, Moran explains the eight qualities successful people exhibit:
- Vision — Visualize your future and your goals.
- Planning — You need a clear and executable plan to reach your goals.
- Process Control — Tools and events that align your daily actions with the critical ones in your plan.
- Measurement — All the indicators that give you feedback on your goal progress.
- Use of Time — Use your time with clear intention.
- Accountability — Accountability is ownership. It can be sought in others (e.g. accountability buddies) but the best accountability is your own.
- Commitment — Keeping your promises to yourself helps you in your goals and increases self-esteem.
- Greatness — Greatness is not achieved at the end of the journey but in every small action you perform towards the goal, the end result is only a confirmation of greatness.
By offering these qualities, Moran shows us not only what to do, but a specific way to do it to achieve success.
The authors encourage readers to have two overarching visions for their life: an immediate three-year plan and an aspirational vision of their entire life. They suggest this so people have an idea of their life plan and their reasoning behind it. The life plan should be broken into smaller, more practical chunks. This helps readers roughly predict the course of several “12 week years” and give them something to go back to in order to stay on track, reflect, and redirect if needed.
12 Week Goals
When the two ‘life visions’ are solidified, we move on to setting our targets for our upcoming 12 week year. The idea is to plan something concrete and achievable in a short time. By doing so, focus is easily maintained and there’s a more immediate sense of urgency.
Compared to yearly goals, most people are demotivated or may have changed course entirely between January and November. By breaking down your year into 12 weeks, deadlines approach quicker and it’s easier to maintain strong commitments. Consider a week where you get distracted and aren’t able to complete your goals as you expected: in the 12 week year, you lose 8% of your productivity time as opposed to 2%.
12 Week Actions
After identifying your goals, break them down further into actions you are able to complete. Oftentimes, your list of actionable tasks might seem overwhelming, but Moran and Lennington recommend you identify and focus the actions that would make the most impact on your goals.
Once your vision, goals, and action plan are ready, it’s finally time to get to work! Review your schedule and choose the best times to execute each of the actions you identified so you will meet your deadline at the end of the twelve weeks.
Since accountability is an important element for this book, the authors suggest weekly reviews of your progress. Weekly reviews give you a moment to reflect and adjust your actions if needed.
The authors identified a few key items for successful commitment:
- Strong Desire — This is a combination of your aspirational vision and a clear sense of why you are working to make your vision reality.
- Keystone Actions — Have a few to-do items that make a more significant impact towards your goal.
- Count the Cost — Achieving anything has a price. Most of the time, it will require you to get out of your comfort zone. When you anticipate the costs and accept they are worth achieving your goals, you’re more willing to accomplish them.
- Act on Commitments, Not Feelings — A worthy commitment for a 12 week year should be something you wouldn’t otherwise get done, and may require a bit of sacrifice. By choosing commitments over feelings, you recognize when a little sacrifice is necessary, even if it doesn’t feel good at the moment.
The Book Club found the broad outline of the 12 Week Strategy to be useful, even though the book sounded like sales pitch, which lost the interest of many Book Club members. Regardless, if you don’t mind navigating the sales chat, there’s a lot of value in this book. (This also became our Challenge of the Week in April 2020!)
I felt like the pitfalls and excuses we make were right on. I felt really called out. But I also felt it had a lot of encouragement and ideas to keep me moving forward.
Best takeaways include: discarding annualized thinking, putting more focus on tracking your execution than immediate results (lead&lag indicators), accountability being something you can’t really force on other people (they talked about the error in saying “holding people accountable”) and it being not about consequences but about ownership, how important it is to keep in touch with your vision (I tend to not pay much attention to visions before) and a lot of other little things