The pandemic has shaken up most organizations’ strategic plans. Rather than on long-term strategy, the focus was on immediate needs: Getting through this quarter or the next, taking care of staff and partners, navigating shaky supply chains, etc.: It was an exercise in extreme volatility. It was little strategy and lots of tactical decision-making. That’s ok, that’s what happens in times of upheaval. But now it’s time to think about strategy again.
Now, the thing is that we won’t go back to “normal”. And that’s a good thing, overall, given that what we have come to call “normal” has been not working for a great many people, and it put us on a path to environmental collapse.
So rather than getting back to normal, we must need to build a new, better normal. We need to un-frack our futures. Rather than narrowing our options space more and more, we need to open it up.
Rebuilding for a new, better normal
If a new, better normal is the new guiding star, then we can rebuild and adapt accordingly. And now’s a great time: With the vaccines being deployed around the world, for the first time since early 2020 there’s now an event horizon that we can plan towards — the end of 2021.
This gives us about 9 months to work on establishing strategic goals that both aim the organization towards a new better normal, and in the same breath also prepare it for future crises.
If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that the focus these last 30 or so years on efficiency over everything else has made systems brittle, prone to breaking under stress. Inflexible. Inefficiencies aren’t necessarily bad, though. They’re a building block of resilience.
Focus on resilience and responsibility
Instead of putting efficiency first, resilience and responsibility should be at the top of the list.
Why these two?
- Resilience makes systems (including organizations) more reliable.
- Responsibility puts organizations on the right path towards a new, better normal.
Taken together, this is a powerful double punch — and an infinitely better fit for the 21st century than the exploitative logic of pure economic efficiency.
Resilience makes the organizations themselves and the networks of partners they operate in more, well, resilient. More competitiveness through better adaptability to external shocks and stressors. Responsibility helps organizations contribute to a more resilient overall society, stronger markets. It’s the largest de-risking strategy of all. More competitiveness by being ahead of competitors and regulators on matters of societal import — and the org becomes more attractive to top talent, almost as a bonus. It’s a win-win.
Start your strategy process in early 2021 so that post-pandemic, you’re in a good place
I invite decision makers to consider if your strategic plans have been adapted towards a new, better normal. If not, let’s explore how to get ahead of future crises and become part of the solution to larger problems at the same time: To become more responsible and resilient starting in 2021.
Let’s look at possible and preferable futures scenarios, at what needs doing regarding your people (staff, clients, partners), products (line-up, development, R&D) and processes (comms, work-from-home, resilience strategies…) and then figure out how to get there.
After a year of flying by sight it’s time to start a real strategy process again.
ps. I’ll limit my client engagements to a max of 3 of these holistic strategy processes in Q1/2021, plus a few workshops or other limited inputs. If you’d like to explore working together, please get in touch.