This year has been full of ups and downs for all of us. This roller coaster has taken a toll on long-range planning efforts, and rightly so. But, as we enter our second year of this pandemic, leadership folks have to wonder, are we there yet? Can we get back to our strategic planning?
When asked, I have an annoying but accurate response; it depends. For many, it is time to reengage in long-ranging thinking with a pandemic spin. However, it may not be time to dig into long-range planning for many others, but there is still significant work to do now to prepare for the time when it is right.
Here is how you can examine this question for your business or nonprofit.
Three indications it is time to reengage in strategic planning.
- Your market and business are stable. After a year of intense and unpredictable change, many markets are still in flux, and organizations are testing their responses to these changes. However, if your market has been relatively (and surprisingly) unaffected by this pandemic, early 2021 may be the time to reengage in strategic planning and chart a course for the future.
- Your business model has remained substantially intact. By intact, I mean your target audience is unchanged, the needs you strive to address for this audience or audience groups are still relevant, and how you served these needs still works - albeit with some pandemic tweaks.
- Your business model's core assumptions are still valid. Assumptions are the foundational calculations or beliefs upon which you have built your business model. Typically, there is no reason to validate these assumptions as teams look to design the next evolutionary step for their entity. However, these aren’t typical times.
If your market has been stable, your business model is still relevant, and you believe your core assumptions are still sound, you should reengage in strategic planning early in 2021 with a few extra pandemic steps.
Those additional steps should include:
- Conducting in-depth market analysis to identify changes that, although they have not affected you yet, may during this next planning cycle. For example, if your market has not already experienced consolidations from acquisitions and mergers, there is a high likelihood it will see them in 2021. If these have already occurred, prepare to spend extra time at your planning meeting fully processing the implications on your market position and future strategies based on a new competitive set.
- Researching your target audiences' current preferences and how "The Year of Covid" has modified their needs and relationship to what you offer them.
- Re-evaluating partnerships and strategic alliances to ensure they are as healthy and robust as you need them to be as you move into your next phase of growth.
Take a few extra steps before convening your team for the first 2021 strategy session. It may feel like it is slowing the process down as you are raring to go, but after 2020, my recommendation is to go slow to go fast.
Since our new normal creates new challenges, even in our planning process, contact us to explore how we can help you reengage successfully.
What can you do if now is not the right time to reengage?
The next post 'Why your 2021 needs a Strategic Assessment, strategic plan, or not.' will cover the steps to complete a thorough Strategic Assessment Effort in 2021 with three extra pandemic recovery steps..