Skip to Content

Book Summary: The 12 Week Year – Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months

During a typical 12‐month year, it’s easy to procrastinate on your annual goals. But during a 12‐week year, there’s a constant sense of urgency because the end of the year is always looming and you need to generate a month’s worth of progress every week!

“Let’s redefine a year: A year is no longer 12 months, it is now only 12 weeks…There are no longer four periods in a year; that’s old thinking. Now, there is just a 12 Week Year, followed by the next 12 Week Year… (and) each 12 week period stands on its own.” – The 12 Week Year

To accomplish your annual goals in 12‐weeks and achieve a month’s worth of progress every week, you need to fundamentally change the way you approach your goals and adopt the 12‐week year ‘Special O.P.S.’ framework:

  • Own results
  • Plan weekly keystone actions
  • Keep score of execution

Book Summary: The 12 Week Year - Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months


Ownership requires 100% commitment to your goals, and commitment (as defined in the American Heritage Dictionary), is “The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action, or to another person or persons.”

A sure way to be “bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action, or to another person” is to bet on yourself. Tell a friend: “In 12‐weeks I will [ANNUAL GOAL], or give you [A PAINFUL AMOUNT OF MONEY], no matter what!”

When you meet with your friend 12‐weeks later, you either prove you hit your 12‐week goal, or you pay up. No excuses. You can’t tell your friend you were too busy, your house burnt down, or you didn’t receive enough support. If you didn’t do what you said you were going to do, you must honor your word.

“When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit, but when you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” – The 12 Week Year


“At its most basic level, planning is just problem solving. Your plan solves the problem of how to close the gap between your results today and your 12‐week goal… A 12 week plan gets down to the critical actions that you will need to take each week to reach your goal.” – The 12 Week Year

When you spend 15 minutes to plan your week, you ultimately save time and energy ‐ two resources you must use wisely to achieve a 12‐month goal in 12‐weeks.

  • Weekly planning increases the odds of finding the shortest route to your goal and prevents you from constantly backtracking. The authors say, “If you take time to plan before engaging with a complex task, you reduce the overall time required to complete the task by as much as 20 percent.”
  • Weekly planning prevents you from overthinking hour‐by‐hour decisions and thus reduces daily decision fatigue

Every week, search for tactics people have used to reach a similar goal, then extract and write down a list of keystone actions.

“In most endeavors there are often many activities that help you accomplish your goal. However there are usually a few core activities that account for the majority of the results, and in some cases there are only one or two keystone actions that ultimately produce the result. It is critical that you identify these keystones and focus on them.” – The 12 Week Year


Results lag action, often by several weeks.

If two people are selling the same product, the person who focuses sales made may lose enthusiasm and quit if he’s not hitting his weekly sales targets. But the guy who measures his execution (i.e., number of doors he’s knocked on and number of prospects he’s called), and does not fixate on weekly results, ultimately make more sales.

“If you want to know what your future holds, look to your actions; they are the best predictor of your future.” – The 12 Week Year

Stay focused on execution by keeping score of weekly actions. Each week review your weekly action plan and give yourself an execution score. If you completed 4/5 planned actions, give yourself an execution score of 80% and aim to improve your score next week.

“We have found that if you successfully complete 85 percent of the activities in your weekly plan, then you will most likely achieve your objectives (12‐week year goals).” – The 12 Week Year

“The 12 Week Year system forces you to confront your lack of execution — and it’s uncomfortable, but it is the very thing that is required if you’re going to perform at your best. We call this discomfort productive tension.” – The 12 Week Year

About the author

BRIAN P. MORAN is founder and CEO of The Execution Company, an organization committed to improving the performance and enhancing the quality of life for leaders and entrepreneurs. He has served in management and executive positions with UPS, PepsiCo, and Northern Automotive and consults with dozens of world-class companies each year. As an entrepreneur, he has led successful businesses and been instrumental in the growth and success of many others. In addition to his books, Brian has been published in many of the leading business journals and magazines. He is a sought-after speaker, educating and inspiring thousands each year. Brian lives in Michigan with his wife Judy and their two daughters.

MICHAEL LENNINGTON is Vice President of The Execution Company. He is a consultant, coach, and leadership trainer, and an expert in implementing lasting change in organizations. He works with clients in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East to help them implement corporate initiatives that drive sales, service, and profitability. Michael holds a BS from Michigan State University, and an MBA from Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He lives with his wife Kristin and their children in northern Michigan.


Business, Nonfiction, Productivity, Self Help, Personal Development, Leadership, Psychology, Management, Employees, Attitudes and Productivity, Organizational Behavior, Job Hunting and Careers, Business and Organizational Learning, Time Management, Business Management

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Challenge 1
Part I Things You Think You Know 7
Chapter 2 Redefining the Year 9
Chapter 3 The Emotional Connection 19
Chapter 4 Throw Out the Annual Plan 25
Chapter 5 One Week at a Time 29
Chapter 6 Confronting the Truth 33
Chapter 7 Intentionality 39
Chapter 8 Accountability as Ownership 45
Chapter 9 Interest versus Commitment 49
Chapter 10 Greatness in the Moment 55
Chapter 11 Intentional Imbalance 61
Part II Putting It All Together 65
Chapter 12 The Execution System 67
Chapter 13 Establish Your Vision 77
Chapter 14 Develop Your 12 Week Plan 89
Chapter 15 Installing Process Control 105
Chapter 16 Keeping Score 117
Chapter 17 Take Back Control of Your Day 127
Chapter 18 Taking Ownership 143
Chapter 19 12 Week Commitments 153
Chapter 20 Your First 12 Weeks 169
Chapter 21 Final Thoughts and the 13th Week 187
References 189


The guide to shortening your execution cycle down from one year to twelve weeks

Most organizations and individuals work in the context of annual goals and plans; a twelve-month execution cycle. Instead, The 12 Week Year avoids the pitfalls and low productivity of annualized thinking. This book redefines your “year” to be 12 weeks long. In 12 weeks, there just isn’t enough time to get complacent, and urgency increases and intensifies. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now. In the end more of the important stuff gets done and the impact on results is profound.

  • Explains how to leverage the power of a 12 week year to drive improved results in any area of your life
  • Offers a how-to book for both individuals and organizations seeking to improve their execution effectiveness
  • Authors are leading experts on execution and implementation

Turn your organization’s idea of a year on its head, and speed your journey to success.


“This book takes all the core business principles I believe are so valuable―discipline, consistency, focus, intensity, ownership, accountability, and planning―and puts them together in a straightforward system that actually works. What more can you ask for?” ―MATTHEW E. WINTER, President, Allstate Auto, Home and Agencies

“The 12 Week Year is a book you can open to any chapter and find valuable insights and practical actions you can put into practice today. Read it; study it; apply it!” ―TOM IZZO, Head Coach, Michigan State University men’s basketball team

“Brian Moran and Michael Lennington have persuaded me that focusing on shorter time periods―four ‘year ends’ instead of one―brings clarity and urgency to individuals and teams. I’ve already drawn up my own 12-week plan. Exciting!” ―SUSAN SCOTT, author of Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership

“If you are an executive or entrepreneur and you are serious about creating a high-performance culture that executes well, then read this book and have your team read it too.” ―JOHN VACCARO, Senior Vice President, MassMutual Financial Group

“The 12 Week Year is a powerful system for achieving extraordinary results both professionally and personally. It’s a simple yet proven approach to creating breakthrough results. If you’re committed to making lasting changes, this is a must-read!” ―TOM BURNS, Chief Distribution Officer, Allianz

Video and Podcast

Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview