No matter where in the world you are, there’s no getting away from the fact that the last two years have been disruptive. For many the challenge moving forward is to regain control from chaos. This means refocusing and getting back on top as quickly and easily as possible. The big difference is that you will be getting back on top to a different space than before the pandemic. In fact, getting back to where you were in March 2020 is now a few steps backwards. Since then, we’ve learnt new skills in online meetings and adapted our products, services, and programs. Even those affected by lockdowns and survived, have established a new respect for the industry they are in. Charities, hospitality, sporting clubs, travel, business coaches, every industry and community have been affected and something has changed forever. There is no going back.
If you have one, ask yourself if your strategic plan is worth the paper it’s written on? What’s changed? Technology and working practices may be one factor. Change in customer behaviours is another. How is this change going to evolve over the next few years and how will it impact on what you do? COVID 19 isn’t the only change agent here. What about changes in attitudes and behaviours towards climate change? The increasing speed of the introduction of AI and other technology improvements?
Like a ship’s captain navigating the storm, now is the right time to reset the dial on your compass. Rather than abandoning a forward plan because it’s too soon and focusing on surviving the here and now, tune your survival instinct down, step onto the captain’s bridge and observe the direction of the winds of change. Stop, re-evaluate, and set a plan that goes with the new flow.
Here is a reminder of the fundamentals to steering a good strategic plan through uncertain times.
1 Plan for 3 years
Trying to predict what will be the case in five years’ time may seem a little out of reach now, so focus on three years. It’s achievable. If the winds of change are too strong and unreliable, focus on 2 years, but anything less is day-to-day survival, and draining on energy.
Your strategic plan should start with a good look at the internal and external situation and how it will impact on the organisation or business now and in the future. Make sure you analyse as much evidence and data as you can and be as objective as possible in determining where you want to be in 3 years’ time, and the milestones along the way. Consider priority actions in relation to areas such as access to human resources, technology, products and services, client engagement, positioning, research and development, business management, finances, and infrastructure, as well as the ability to measure your success within realistic time frames. If you haven’t got clearly defined strategic goals, how can you design effective marketing, human resource, and financial plans? How can others contribute to the direction of the organisation if it’s not clearly articulated? Right now, direction is what people are looking for.
2 Get outside help right from the start
You’re ready to put together a new strategic plan. There’s so much uncertainty going on, and at the same time, a lot of opportunity. What you really want to do is brainstorm and come up with new, disruptive ideas that take you out of 2020 thinking and into a new frontier. Consider engaging an external facilitator from the outset who will assist with the planning, information gathering, facilitation and putting together the final plan. They bring objectivity to the process and benefits include:
- Saving time and resources internally by outsourcing the leg work
- Minimising the risk of undue, and possibly out of date, influence on the shape of the Plan which can occur when an internal person facilitates and drives the content
- Enabling all parties to fully take part on an equal basis in consultation and discussion and come up with new ideas and a new direction.
3 Incorporate a well-researched situation analysis
Now is not the time to simply rely on your inside knowledge and perceptions to guess what is going on in the external environment and to use this limited knowledge to analyse the current situation and future trends. If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you always got, and that’s not what you want moving ahead.
We live in a fast-changing and uncertain world, so it makes sense that to be strategic and stay ahead of the game, we must review world and local trends, demographic and economic data, competitors, stakeholders, and government policy. This is the backbone of innovation.
4 Goals and strategies are not your programs, products, and services
If your focus is in the business of what you do, step back and focus on your vision and mission. If you’re going to achieve results, your programs, products, and services are only connectors in the equation. They simply connect you to your clients and your goals.
Your 3 year goal is an accountable milestone on the journey to achieving your vision. The vision is the ultimate result you are looking for, which will take some time. Consider ‘how, when, why, who and where’, starting with ‘what’ needs to happen to get us from A to B in x amount of time to help us to achieve y (y = destination goal = vision). When it comes to programs, products, and services, use the strategic planning process to think outside the box and come up with some innovative solutions.
5 Measure your results
This is the life essence within the strategic plan that sets apart the winners from the rest. This is the part many strategic plans gloss over, maybe because it is too hard to think about, or an indication that the people at the top do not understand its role in setting and monitoring the direction of the organisation. Even some million-dollar operations fail to measure their results beyond the balance sheet.
Being able to measure the success of your plan will bring control to chaos. How else will you learn from your journey to reach a new destination? What strategies worked? What could you improve on? Being able to quantify your results also helps you to focus and be accountable, and you will get noticed for your achievements.
Now is a good time to map out your new direction, and help is available. Yes, it would be preferable to engage a professional strategic planning facilitator, but if your resources won’t stretch that far, all is not lost.
The DIY Strategic Planning Toolkit is a versatile program for organisations and businesses who are looking to set up their next strategic plan and don’t know where to start. It is a flexible option program that can be used as a stand-alone DIY program for small entities that want the benefits of a professional plan and have the time but not the finances to spare, or for those that are looking for an externally facilitated service, and even those who want a done-with you option. Whatever your budget, this program can be delivered to suit your circumstances. Its components include environmental scanning, situation analysis, preparation, workshop facilitation, risk planning and a plan with built in monitoring timeframes. One size fits all, delivered to meet individual needs.
For further information, go to https://spdiy.thecommunityentrepreneur.com. Or alternatively, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a time to speak to us about the best option for your needs http://bit.ly/tcebooking.