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    A CEO’s First 100-Day Guide: Plan For Success

    It will depend on determining what needs to be done and carrying it out with a sense of urgency—but not in an arbitrary time frame.

    Upon reviewing the topic, you may have the impression that this article is exclusively geared toward CEOs. However, this article aims to offer guidance to Managers, General Managers, and Leaders in their strategic planning. It is important to avoid limiting one’s knowledge and scope solely to their unit or department. Instead, it is recommended to view the company as a value chain, which includes all other departments and divisions. Adopting this perspective can lead to a better understanding of strategy development, as every strategy is interconnected with each unit and department.

    I am inclined to share my experience in the first 100 days of assuming a CEO or Head of Department position. In 2007, when I was appointed as the Managing Director of Kleemann, a premium tuned-up automotive company based in Copenhagen tasked to manage the Asia Pacific Market, I did not have the privilege of being familiar with the concept of ‘100 Days of CEO’.

    Instead, I devised a comprehensive 3-month plan that involved gathering relevant information, conducting interviews, reading publications, and reaching out to professionals for insights. With limited resources and no easy access to information, as we have now, I devoted significant effort to laying out a strategic roadmap that would set the company on a path to success.

    Upon assuming my new role, I immediately engaged in intensive meetings, brainstorming, and strategic sessions with the President, CEO, and Head of Divisions in Copenhagen. I needed to grasp the essence of the company’s spirit, history, aspirations, direction, current and future technology, and global market expansion plan.

    Despite the daunting task, I found a great appreciation for Scandinavian people’s merit-based approach, as they evaluated the strategic plan I had previously presented in Malaysia and intently listened to my detailed planning before appointing me to the role. Although I had initially been the GM of Product Planning and Strategic Marketing, my strategic plan extended beyond my territorial jurisdiction, which perhaps prompted my appointment as the Managing Director.

    In light of my past experiences, I have decided to craft a comprehensive guide for new CEOs, General Managers, or Founders of companies, to help them avoid the difficulties I faced as a young and inquisitive 33-year-old. Through my humble and sincere sharing, I hope that new leaders will benefit from a structured and pragmatic approach to planning, strategizing, and executing their roles effectively.

    A new CEO’s success in the first 100 days depends on determining what needs to be done and carrying it out with a sense of urgency—but not in an arbitrary time frame.

    Self-awareness and reflection are also necessary if you want to figure out what kind of CEO you want to be. Define what your leadership philosophy is. Think about the leadership qualities that contributed to your greatest successes. Be open and honest about your weaknesses, and look for people to fill in the gaps.

    The structure

    The 100-day strategic plan is a crucial tool for CEOs to ensure a successful transition into their new role. Here are some specific ways in which a well-executed 100-day plan can benefit a CEO and their organization:

    1. Establishing a clear vision. This plan allows the CEO to articulate their vision for the organization and communicate it to stakeholders. This is essential for creating a shared sense of purpose and direction.
    2. Prioritizing key initiatives. A 100-day plan helps the CEO to identify the most pressing issues facing the organization and prioritize them accordingly. This ensures that resources are allocated effectively and that progress is made on the most important projects.
    3. Building relationships. A new CEO must quickly build relationships with key stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and investors. The 100-day plan can include specific actions designed to facilitate these relationships, such as holding town hall meetings, attending industry conferences, or meeting one-on-one with key individuals.
    4. Assessing the organization. The 100-day plan allows the CEO to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and make any necessary adjustments. This might include restructuring departments, revising processes, or identifying areas where additional training or resources are needed.
    5. Establishing credibility. By delivering on the commitments outlined in the 100-day plan, the CEO can establish credibility and build trust with stakeholders. This is critical for gaining support and buy-in for the CEO’s vision and initiatives.

    In short, a 100-day plan is a valuable tool for CEOs to establish themselves as leaders, set priorities, build relationships, and drive results. By executing a well-planned and thoughtful transition, the CEO can position themselves and their organization for long-term success.

    The thinking approach

    As a new CEO, several key ways of thinking can help you be successful in your role:

    Strategic thinking. This involves seeing the big picture and understanding how different parts of the organization fit together. By thinking strategically, you can develop plans and initiatives that support the company’s long-term goals and create value for stakeholders.

    Customer-focused thinking. A CEO needs to have a deep understanding of the company’s customers, their needs, and their pain points. By thinking from the customer’s perspective, you can develop products, services, and experiences that meet their needs and help build long-term relationships.

    Data-driven thinking. In today’s data-rich environment, a CEO needs to be comfortable working with data and analytics. By analyzing data on customer behavior, market trends, and operational performance, you can identify opportunities for improvement and make informed decisions.

    Innovative thinking. A CEO needs to be comfortable taking risks and thinking outside the box. By fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation, you can develop new products, services, and business models that set your company apart from competitors.

    Collaborative thinking. To be successful, a CEO needs to be able to work effectively with stakeholders across the organization, including employees, customers, suppliers, and investors. By fostering a collaborative culture and building strong relationships, you can drive alignment and achieve your goals more effectively.

    By cultivating these ways of thinking, new CEO can be better equipped to lead their organization through times of change and uncertainty and achieve long-term success.

    Steps you may want to consider

    Now allow me to share a set of my personal-thought steps that may serve as a guide for your reference. Whether you are a new CEO or have been in the position for some time, these steps can be utilised to monitor and evaluate your activities. Furthermore, you may also use this guide to provide direction for your Managers and Heads of Divisions.

    Action Plan for the First 100 Days of a New CEO Are you a new CEO? Are you unsure of what to do in your first 100 days as a leader? Or on the other hand, would you say you are joining another organization as a Chief? You might find the first 100 days action plan below useful. Use it as a checklist to make sure you cover everything that matters to you.

    Acquire a clear direction from the Board, the stakeholders or the vital partners

    • Get Completely clear Command and Arrangement
    • Accountabilities/Anticipated Expectations
    • Key Execution Measures
    • Division of Jobs and Obligations between Director, Proprietor, and Chief (i.e., to keep away from the two commanders, single boat issue)

    Grasp the nature of the business, the organization, and the individuals

    Acclimate Self with the Business

    • Work area Exploration/Consultancy/Outer Meetings to Grasp the Business:
    • Industry Design/Basics
    • Vital participants
    • Key Trends
    • Value Chain/Drivers
    • Key Success Factors Common Problems, Dangers, and Risks Change or build your leadership team by putting in place your core team (your direct reports and the executive team). such as identifying the ideal team you require, what abilities are required—a mix of new and old men, what is required from the old folks and what is expected from the new folks.

    3. Plan a quick win for three to six months

    • Stay liquid by holding the cash in hand (if you’re in a bad situation);
    • Introduce one or two initiatives to change the culture (for a change in policy right away)
    • Introduce Direct Feedback Channels, such as suggestion boxes, email, and a survey that applies to the entire company.
    • iv. Introduce a Pulse Check and Newsletter each month. Keep uplifting news rolling
    • v. Send off Critical thinking moves
    • vi. Utilize Internal Knowledge to Take Advantage of Big, Simple Levers (does not guarantee the best outcomes but does guarantee quick actions) vii. Investigate other regular Fast Win Drives

    Create a Value Creation Plan for One to Two Years

    • Identify and Give Priority to Key Initiatives
    • Create the Roadmap.
    • Setup of the Transformation Program
    • Perform a deep-diver diagnostic

    Implement the company’s vision and values

    • Introduce a Change Management Plan 
    • Examine the Availability of Change
    • Establish The Change Management Story.
    • Plan for Communication and Stakeholder Engagement
    • Program for Change Champions

    Start the Process of Developing a Strategy for the Next 3-5 Years

    • Develop a Strategy for the Corporate and Business Unit Strategy
    • Baseline Strategy and Performance
    • Examine the current management strategy
    • Review the business model and the right to win
    • Set the agenda and prioritize opportunities
    • Plan for key plan rollout

    Create a Human Capital Development Program

    • Establish a personal objective or goal;
    • Define the Change Agenda
    • Ensure Effective Management and Analysis
    • Address any skill gaps
    • Conduct a 360-degree assessment of the current skillset
    • Decide the Necessary Range of abilities for Progress

    Build core team

    • Identify the ideal team you require
    • What abilities are required? a mix of new and old
    • What is required from the old team
    • What is expected from them


    The first 100 days of a CEO’s tenure are critical in setting the tone and direction for their leadership. By having a strategic plan in place, CEOs can prioritize their actions and make an immediate impact on the organization. It is important to conduct thorough research, gather feedback from stakeholders, and involve key members of the team in the planning process.

    Additionally, CEOs must remain adaptable and open to feedback as they implement their plan. The benefits of a well-executed 100 Days plan can be immense, including improved morale, increased productivity, and a clear path towards achieving the organization’s goals. As such, every CEO should consider the benefits of a 100 Days plan and prioritize this essential aspect of their leadership.

    Let me end this with a quote,

    “Unless you have a definite, precise, clearly set goals, you are not going to realize the maximum potential that lies within you.” ― Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker

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    An entrepreneur, business coach, rally, and race driver with a passion for entrepreneurs and talent development. A certified business & leadership coach, a part-time motoring journalist, and an automotive TV host.He served in various automotive companies, including PROTON, DRB-HICOM, General Motors, Kleemann, and KIA; gained experience in branding and international sales & marketing while serving in Rayong Thailand, Copenhagen Denmark, Singapore, Europe, and the ASEAN markets.He provides Business & Leadership Coaching, Corporate Training, Advanced & Performance Driving Classes, and Talents Development programs. You can email him via the given link.

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