Recently we had Richard Bartlett from the Loomio team pay a visit to Dev Academy and share some of the lessons they have learned around their 90 day planning cycle. The price of the workshop was a blog post and like Lannisters and Dev Academy graduates a developer always pays their debts.
it’s all about context
A lot of the context is held implicitly in the team and the quarterly planning cycle is an opportunity for the team to add to this context and create shared understanding. The 90 day plan is developed in the wider context of the teams direction which is articulated as purpose, strategy and priorities.
Purpose (decades): your long term vision. For Loomio it is to
“create a world where it’s easy for anyone to participate in decisions that affect them.”
Strategy (3 years): what are your strategic objectives over the next few years?
This is in flux at Loomio and a new iteration is currently being formulated. You can get a gist of it through these slides.
Priorities (3 months): the targets that the 90 day cycle sets.
The last priorities for the cycle that ended in June were
- Capital: deliver US$250k in philanthropic funding by June 30
- Revenue: generate US$2.5k in monthly recurring revenue for use of Loomio
- Release: develop new interface to the point where all users can switch to it by May 15
Richard made the comment that the numbers in their targets were somewhat arbitrary and that regardless of whether they missed them, hit them or overshot them the value was in the focus it gave. For each new idea or task there was a very clear litmus test of is this a priority.
3 weeks before the end of the quarter the team starts gathering data and and sharing it with the members. There are two main inputs into the planning session: a survey and reports.
This was last quarters survey and it particular reflects the particular dynamics of team Loomio where roles can dramatically change each quarter.
The retreat cycle of Loomio is retreat, offsite, retreat, offsite – with the retreats being 3 days in summer and winter and the offsites being one day. Richard commented that the survey felt more useful for the offsite cycles as the extra time in the retreat created more space for creating shared context.
Another noticing about the survey is that it was a useful tool for some people to switch out of day to day mode and start thinking about the big picture instead of jumping straight in the deep end of strategic planning.
Overlapping the survey process there is also a culture of writing reports to share with the team.
The coordinators write a collective report focused on the priorities for the last quarter specifically addressing what did we do and what did we learn.
Individuals in the group also write up longer form reflections on the work they did and any opinions they have about future directions.
retreats and Off sites
The Loomio planning process culminates in their quarterly gatherings. Lots of work goes on here but one of the key outcomes is the skeleton of a plan for the next 90 days along with coordinators tasked with implementing that plan.
We have a strong retreat and facilitation culture at Enspiral and Loomio is a team with a high density of strong facilitators so this part of the process is under constant experimentation. This winter retreat marks their 7th retreat together and retreat cultural tech is a topic for several blog posts.
The Loomio team have gone through four iterations of their 90 day planning process and I am looking on with envy from an Enspiral Dev Academy point of view. We have just enough time to put together a 90 day plan for this cycle, though the boat has nearly sailed.
While the planning adds value to a single venture I think the real opportunity is when multiple ventures sync up with their context sharing. Add in some digital connecting during the retreat process from lots of teams reaching out of their bubbles and it would change the collaboration landscape at Enspiral dramatically.