How Will You Plan in an Uncertain World?
COVID-19 has created the biggest disruption most people alive will have ever experienced. Some people say, “We’re all in the same boat”, but that’s not true. We’re all in the same storm, but we’re all in different boats, navigating our way through the storm. The pandemic has affected different industries in different ways, and even within an industry, but the one thing that’s certain is we’re facing more uncertainty.
The things you don’t know WILL hurt you!
When it comes to strategic planning in a crisis (and beyond), most organisations go through three stages – crisis, recovery, and growth. Your success depends on how well you plan at each stage.
- Crisis: You move into survival mode, and all action is reactive and focussed on immediate needs only. Long-term strategic planning is absent, and that’s exactly the right focus at this time, because you need to react to external circumstances.
- Recovery: You can now be more responsive and measured, but because you’re still operating in a volatile environment, it’s tempting to focus only on short-term goals. Many organisations get stuck at this point, lurching from month to month with short-term plans that continually need to be revised or discarded.
- Growth: To move from recovery to growth, you need to be proactive and move beyond the limit of what you can predict with certainty. You map out multiple external scenarios, choose the most plausible path, design a strategy to follow that path, but remain flexible enough to switch as circumstances change.
A few organisations take this one step further and progress to a fourth stage:
- Disruption: In any environment where everything is shaken loose, a few organisations take the opportunity to be disruptive. These are the iconic businesses in an industry that take the lead and ultimately change their industry.
Are you going to survive and thrive, or will you nose-dive and disappear?
Make no mistake – uncertainty changes everything. Some people become paralysed by fear, others cross their fingers and hope for the best, and others continue in a false sense of security that nothing has changed. But the best people, leaders, teams, and organisations roll up their sleeves and take action.
The most successful organisations proactively plan for growth even in uncertain times.
When you get this right, you’ll be significantly more productive because you and your team understand the risks and opportunities in the future, and you have created an organisation (and culture) that’s positioned to leverage those opportunities to stay ahead of the game.