Now is the Time to Conduct Strategic Planning

I recently asked a business owner what her highest priority will be when her office reopens.  

With no hesitation, she said, “Revise our strategic plan.” 

I’ve heard other business leaders say they can’t plan now. There’s too much uncertainty. Their plan: Go into survival mode, cut costs, and tread water until they can return to business-as-usual. 

I shared that plan with the business owner. She said, “Sure, we’re concerned about finances. But investing  in strategic planning is money well spent. Right now is the time to figure out how to thrive in the new normal!”

Given the choice between “Plan Now” or “Wait and See”, I’ll side with the business owner. Plan now — even though the future seems uncertain. 

The world as we knew it has turned upside-down, so resuming business as usual is not an option.  An outdated plan is as useful as no plan at all and leaves you at the mercy of fate. 

Now is the time to consider how your organization creates a new path for the future. 

Because none of us can predict with certainty how this pandemic will evolve, you’ll need to build more flexibility into your plan.  The plan will be for a shorter term…one to two years…and you’ll have to recognize the need to reassess and possibly pivot every couple months.

Here are a few tips on planning for an uncertain future:

  1. Revisit your SWOT analysis with a focus on Opportunities and Threats.  What new threats could impact your business?  What new opportunities might there be?  How can you leverage your unique strengths to take advantage of these opportunities?
  2. As you consider ways to move forward, look at your existing vision and strategies.  What goals are no longer relevant?  Look outside the box to define what business you’re really in now.  Think big…look at trends resulting from the pandemic and how our world may change in the long-term.
  3. Review your short-term priorities.  Update and reorganize them based on the new business conditions.  Focus on a few critical priorities.  Keep in mind that your internal processes are important, but one of your top priorities should be serving your customers…existing and new.
  4. Speaking of customers, look at industry trends and focus on markets that are projected to recover the quickest.  Once again, think big picture.  Are there new markets that need the services or products you provide?  What new services or products can you supply that are now needed.
  5. Remember, it takes a team to come up with a good plan.  Engage your customers, partners, vendors, and outside experts if you think they can be helpful.  Definitely tap into the talent within your organization, your employees.  Listen to their ideas and challenge their creativity to come up with solutions. 

Leading through a global health crisis and economic downturn is about as challenging as it can get.  

Stay positive, keep your vision, work your plan.  

Trust that you and your team will pull through this challenge together.

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