Welcome to our new conference room, playground, living room, gym, and oh yeah, COVID-veggie-garden.
Like many of you, we have been struggling to figure out how to prevail during these stranger-than-strange times.
Normally our business cycle has a consistent seasonality. The late winter and early spring is the time when we wrap up the strategic planning engagements launched in the prior year, and I concentrate on creating the content that we will build programs around for the next 12 - 18 months. Then in May and June, our phone starts to ring with calls to discuss strategic planning for the fall. By July, my schedule is jam-packed with Strategic Assessment Interviews. My team is compiling surveys, reviewing materials, and preparing to conduct strategy sessions throughout the rest of the year.
We had a great plan as we entered 2020. It was well-paced and optimistic based on our momentum from 2019. I bet you also had a brilliant plan for 2020.
I am not new to the entrepreneurship game; in fact, 2020 is our 21st year in business—a proud milestone for any business entity. I know things happen out of your control and you must flex to respond and stay in business. By the end of February, the unprecedented nature of this pandemic was only starting to show. I was reading way too many reports from China and Italy and my conversations with clients, friends, and business associates centered around our fears and our need to stay the courses we had set; I even wrote a blog post about it.
What else could we do?
We could learn new remote working applications.
We could encourage and learn how to support our kids with their virtual course work.
We could pick up the phone and connect with those folks that restore our strength through deep, shared affection.
We could build a COVID-garden.
We could listen endlessly to The Beatles.
We could drink too much wine.
We could workout.
We could tweak our business model to stay in the game in the short-term and wonder when it will return to normal.
I have done all the above, but the last.
What I didn’t do was to continue to produce content. My content production stopped. My voice choked. It choked with the ambiguity of this lethal virus and my feelings of grief and sadness brought out by the much-needed social justice movement that emerged after George Floyd’s murder.
It took some time to sort myself out.
As I suggested in my May post on perseverance, I come from sturdy stock. So, by the end of May, my long-time strategy session partner, Emily Shepard and I had already completed a strategic planning engagement 100% virtually. Then we moved quickly to codify new best practices for conducting virtual strategy sessions. We drafted Virtual Planning Essentials in just a few calls.
I also began building out what has been a long-time vision for Focused Momentum®: a comprehensive online academy to teach strategic planning tools and techniques, as well as strategic thinking and strategic management practices. Strategy Class® is finally getting the focus it needs to realize its potential.
Our annual business cycle is off - way off.
The question is: Will it ever return, or do we now have a new cycle? For us, the answer is clear; we have a new cycle, and we are responding to meet it.
For leadership teams with looming planning deadlines, we know how to meet your deadlines and strengthen your strategic thinking even within the constraints of COVID-19 restrictions.
For consultants and individual contributors seeking to improve their planning and management skills, so you come out of this pandemic stronger than ever, we are building an online platform to provide access to our resources from your home offices.
We are optimistic that our virtual consulting and online academy will satisfy the need for guidance in strategic thinking and planning during these times of uncertainty. But, if you want to have an in-person, social-distanced strategy session, our backyard conference room is ready, and we’d love to see you (and your mask) in it.
Stay safe, stay smart, and remember the only way through this is TOGETHER.