...When a Plan Comes Together!”
Many might remember this often-used phrase from the fictional character Hannibal Smith, the leader of “The A-Team” from the mid-80’s TV series (or the 2010 movie). In many cases it always seemed there was no plan, but in the end, things worked out for the team eliciting his infamous phrase while lighting the obligatory cigar! Suffice it to say, most, if not all, plans for 2020 were shot to hell due to the pandemic. However, as business leaders adapt to the new reality and start to put 2020 in the rearview mirror the narrative becomes, “What’s next?”
The 4th Quarter of 2020 is shaping up like no other in recent history. In addition to the lagging effect of the pandemic, the effect of schools in various stages of openness, continued social unrest and a very contentious national election, what is a business leader to do to plan for moving into 2021? The answer; the same thing they should have done with every other business cycle only with a few more assumptions factored into the mix!
As we’ve written previously, by now leaders are taking stock of their own attitudes to move forward. If they are still coping, the planning process is going to be inefficient and unproductive. Whether for-profit, non-profit, public, private, large or small businesses, when leaders show up in a flexing and adaptable mindset, the planning process generates a much more purposeful call to action for the organization. But adapt to what when so many variables are unknown or uncertain?
The first step in any planning process is to reaffirm why the business exists. This is vitally important as entire organizations can become unfocused on their purpose when locked in a day-today survival and coping mindset. This was certainly understandable at the onset of the pandemic and the initial weeks of social unrest. It’s not acceptable now. Not when organizations are looking to their leaders for direction, for inspiration, for validation the business is doing what it needs to do to adapt! What is your business’s purpose?
Once purpose is reaffirmed, it has to be made tangible in the form of a strategy. By definition, the business strategy outlines how the business will compete in its markets. By extension, this means the business leaders understand what competitive capabilities and capacity the business has at its disposal to win where it competes. One of the best tools to get the discussion going is the SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis and Synthesis process. By updating the business narrative of the internal and external business environment, leaders have a clear contextual understanding of how their business moves to the front of the line in this new reality! How are you now going to compete?
Of course, a strategy is useless without execution. At this point, goals that are aligned to the strategy become paramount. Just as important is having the accountability in place to ensure the leader knows when the desired results are achieved. In this new reality, it has to be assumed not all will go according to plan. However, those leaders, and by extension, organizations with adaptability mindsets, will take this in stride by flexing and adapting when necessary without losing sight of the prize!
What does it look like when your next plan comes together? If you don’t know, we can help.