Productivity and Execution: The 12 Week Year with Brian Moran

The annual environment is a barrier to your company’s productivity. GLO spoke with the New York Times bestselling author Brian Moran about his concept of The 12 Week Year. This adjusted plan is a methodology designed to focus a given company’s productivity and execution. Moran used the concept of periodization to create greater urgency for things that matter in the workplace.

What is the 12 Week year?

The method of the 12 Week Year is predicated on the idea that the annual quarter system creates a barrier in mindset, encouraging workers to put tasks off to later dates.  Moran often saw that clients would set annual goals, which are broken down quarterly or monthly. He found that these goals produced good results, but that they could be even better. Moran developed the idea to establish every twelve weeks as a year, creating hard deadlines for his clients.

Why should my company use the 12 Week Year?

This concept has allowed Moran’s clients to shift their thinking and set realistic goals for the near future. “It helps facilitate more consistent execution,” says Moran. He also states that this method should ease stress. A healthy sense of urgency encourages employees to complete tasks immediately rather than put them off toward the end of the quarter.

“The marketplace only rewards great ideas that get implemented.” This method

How Do I Create a Powerful Vision?

Moran recommends starting with a personal vision. Ask yourself, what do you want your life to look like 3 to 5 years from now? Moran encourages thinking about personal goals, as utilizing your aspirations is a key to creating a feasible goal. From that long-term goal, think about what you can do in the next 36 months to achieve your aspiration? Then, set 12-week markers that are aligned with your 36-month goals.

What should my goals look like?

Moran’s plan departs from traditional goal setting. Most plans have too many steps within them. He believes this is a recipe for mediocrity. “We all have a limited capacity in terms of time and energy.” Utilize your time by creating a powerful vision.

To create a powerful vision, you first have to ask “what would great look like?” Moran states that this is a process. What does a great life like for you? And what do you have to do in your business or career to enable that? When you know what matters most, you can more effectively spend your time.

How Can I Win My Week?

To win the week in your 12-week plan, you must execute your plan on time. There will always be more to do than you can plan for. If you allow for the unexpected in your agenda, then you can truly take control of the week.

Plans have two levels: goals and tactics. You will always have greater control over your actions than outcomes. Your goals in your 12-week plan are the outcomes: your desire can influence them, but you only have true control over your actions. Creating feasible goals can allow you to be as productive as possible.

Tracking My Progress: Lead and Lag Indicators

Moran discourages shying away from the measurement of success. He wants you to think of measurement as feedback. “Sometimes feedback will be attractive, sometimes not. But you have to have the courage to face it.” To take control of your progress, Moran’s plan tracks your lead and lag indication to score your execution.

  • Lead Indicator
    • A lead indicator tracks your execution earlier in the cycle that has a strong correlation to the end result.
    • This allows you to obtain data on whether or not you’re on track.
  • Lag Indicator
    • A lag indicator measures your execution on the basis of what you have completed.
    • You can use something like sales data as a lag. It is the results of what you track.

Using these methods, your weekly plan for the 12 Week Year becomes a scorecard. You can check off what you completed and score your progress out of 100%. This measurement is key to marking your progress. If you’re averaging 80% success, you’ll most likely reach your 12-week goal. Oftentimes, if there is an issue, it tends to be in the execution of your plan. However, most people look to change their actual plan when they aren’t achieving the results they desire. If you have a consistent breakdown of your actions, you can pinpoint what went wrong. Moran emphasizes that the greatest predictor of your future is in your daily actions.

Clarity and High-Performance Teams

A central part of creating a 12 Week year is maintaining clarity in your vision. No matter what you value in your company, your goals, expectations of actions, and transparency must be clearly outlined to your employees. Lead and Lag indicators should be used by every member of your company to ensure that your plan is being adhered to. This offers you evidence of whether or not your tactical plan is working.

Thinking about the present is essential to the success of the 12-week year. Ask, what can you do in the coming week to meet your goals? Have performance-based conversations with your team so you can confront lack of action or results earlier. Making smaller adjustments more frequently can help achieve your goals.

Accountability as Ownership of Actions

Moran believes that the idea of accountability is misunderstood. “People equate it with consequences. At the heart of accountability is free will and choice. It is not about consequences, but ownership of your choices.” As a leader, it should be your mission to unassociate mistakes with negative consequences. Moran wants you to hold your employees “capable” by encouraging ownership of choices. A combination of clarity and accountability can help create a team that will execute your goals effectively.

How Can I Start a 12-Week Plan?

The 12-Week Year must start with tactical steps that you can execute week by week. Here are the steps to get started:

  1. Start with vision
    1. Moran states that “Vision is the cornerstone of anything great you will accomplish in your life.”
    2. Moran has a “getting started” course on their website for free!
  2. Build a plan
    1. Understand the difference between a conceptual and tactical plan.
      1. Use the least number of tactics to accomplish your goals.
  3. Execute your plan every week
    1. Create weekly 15-minute accountability meetings with your team to score your success and stay on track.

If you’re interested in learning more about the 12-Week Year, you can watch Brian Moran’s interview with GLO here.



Samantha Braffman

Samantha Braffman is a Philadelphia based writer for Global Leaders Organization. She is also an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, working towards a bachelor's degree in Political Science and English.

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