How To Rethink Your Strategic Planning During Uncertainty

A turmoil or turbulence in the environment generally causes mayhem to plans and strategies that were in place prior to the disturbance. Many organizations around the world currently find themselves in a holding position due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategic plans have taken a back seat while companies try to address immediate issues at hand due to the crisis.

So, the question arises how do you approach the strategic planning process during the pandemic?

Strategic planning is important. Just because your initial strategic plan has been rendered ineffective due to the crisis, it doesn’t mean that we ignore the need and importance of modifying and adapting the plan to take advantage of the current situation. The vision, guidance and direction provided by a strategic plan can help your organization weather the turbulence and uncertainties caused by the recent economic conditions. To get a clear, definite guide on how to create a strategic plan, you can download our ‘Checklist for the Strategic Planning Process’.

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Strategic planning is more important now than it was before. As we enter a new normal and look towards the future, it’s imperative that we focus on a solid strategic planning process.

1. Specify a Definite Recovery

The vision that you had set for your company for the coming year prior to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown will no longer be relevant to the current state of affairs.
It is likely that things will feel very confusing in the near future and this will act as a deterrent to a clear vision or focus in the future.

The first step in mapping out a strategy plan for your organization would be to imagine what the new normal will look like. You will need to determine what recovery would mean for your organization. To do this, you need to answer some key questions.

• How will your organization remain viable and competitive in the current situation?
• What should you do to meet the needs of your customers and clients?
• What targets will remain critical in your organization?

By answering these questions, you will be able to establish certain criteria to assist in your decision making. These criteria will provide guidance for evaluating strategic moves that you will need to make in the near future.

2. Revisit your Current Strategic Plan

Once you have defined the criteria needed to move ahead, you will need to compare them to the strategic plan that was in place prior to COVID. While conducting a comparable analysis of your original plan based on your criteria, you should be able to:

• Gauge the relevancy of your plan depending on the criteria established in the previous step.
• Deprioritize any goal or target that does not align with your recovery plan.
• Evaluate all those elements that do align with your criteria based on timeline accuracy and resource allocation.

It might be possible that you may have to change the timelines of certain targets based on the current situation. You may even need to allocate resources differently according to the needs of the organization.

3. Develop a New Strategic Plan

Next, you need to develop a new plan based on the criteria set and the evaluation of your current plan. This new plan will take into account the new normal environment that is impacting every business around the world.

You should try to make the new plan as focused as possible based on the direction provided by the criteria set in step 1. Each part of the plan should clearly establish the reason for action recommended and the consequence of the action should be clearly specified.

4. Involve all the Stakeholders

Communication is key, as you initiate the path to recovery. Employees, clients, shareholders are all facing a loss of morale as they deal with personal and professional challenges. By channeling your efforts towards a recovery plan for your organization, you will generate hope among the people. They will realize that recovery is still an option and it will motivate everyone towards the recovery process. Communicate effectively what will be required from the organization and each individual to successfully recover. Emphasize on your commitment in doing the right thing. This will ensure that every member of the organization is on the right page and everyone is collectively working towards the new goal.

5. Plan Short-term but think Long-term

Your new plan will probably be more focused on the short-term, as you try to recover from the pandemic. Since the future is highly volatile, it makes more sense to look for ways to stabilize your position in the near future to be able to survive and successfully lead your organization through the turbulent times. However, it is imperative that you do not lose sight of your long-term goals. By focusing on long-term strategic planning as well, you will be able to direct your organization towards a brighter and more viable future.

6. Build Various Scenarios

The likelihood of the successful outcome of your strategic plan is not very certain during the turbulent and volatile conditions that we are living in now. The new normal that is expected in the future is based on our assumptions and could differ from the perceived notions that we may have. It is important to identify the assumptions that we are putting into place and create various scenarios of your plans. You can create a best-case scenario, worst-case scenarios, and most likely scenarios. By having all the possible outcomes in place, you will be able to make better and more realistic decisions and will also be able to change your plan as the need arises.

Every organization is affected differently during the current pandemic. Whether your organization has faced a major hit or has only been slightly affected by the uncertainties and volatile impact of COVID-19, it is important to note that the role of strategic planning process is still paramount to ensure short-term and long-term success.

Once you have the plan in place, the biggest impediment to success is to get the strategic plan into action. Many great plans don’t go as planned as it is difficult to get everyone on track and on course. We can schedule workshops to help you guide your initiatives and strategic plan all the way to completion and get everyone engaged to be able to see what’s happening with every initiative at every level.

So, if you have experience in strategic planning process, we would like to hear about it in the comment. And if you are planning to facilitate strategic planning workshop with your team, please reach out to us.

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