Last Friday marked the start of Phase 4 – Restore Illinois. I invite you to congratulate yourself because if you’re reading this, you survived 104 days of sheltering-in-place through the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, many individuals and organizations did not.
It would be hard to decide who had it worse:
- The hospitality industry whose customers dried up virtually overnight?
- Small businesses whose margins got even smaller or disappeared?
- Healthcare workers tirelessly battling on the front lines?
- Park agencies who couldn’t open kids’ summer camps and fitness centers?
- Institutional facilities which became hot-beds for virus infection?
- Essential workers who had to navigate how to safely operate in this crazy new environment?
We could debate that question all day long to no satisfying answer.
We certainly all bore witness to many changes in our personal and professional lives; some good, some awful. We learned new things, and I think we all realized this: Life as we know it will never truly be the same again.
Even though we may feel drained, stressed and unmotivated—NOW could be the perfect time for you to re-evaluate your organization’s strategy.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
While Darwin probably wasn’t referring specifically to strategic plans, it’s such an applicable statement for today’s business or organization. When new data presents itself, our plans need to change and adapt. Some use the likelihood for change as the very reason not to plan, but that doesn’t make much sense, does it?
The clearest path from dream to reality is this:
- Discussing the future you want
- Envisioning the end game
- Breaking it down into manageable steps
- Documenting those steps in writing with a timeline and action plan
So, where to start? Here are my suggestions.
5 Things to Do When Revisiting Your Strategic Plan (Post-COVID)
1. Ramp Up Your Energy
We may have survived the initial phases of COVID, but most of our reserves are seriously depleted. Would you agree? Dealing with all the new challenges that this pandemic brought, watching the news and heck even being stuck inside (whether alone or with your family) came with a heightened assault on our emotions and was physically and mentally draining for many. I recommend not going into a team meeting to review your strategic plan until you have ramped up your own energy and invited your leadership team to do the same. Besides getting sleep, spend time walking in nature, get a massage or your first haircut, take a weekend driving trip, watch a funny movie. Do whatever you do to recharge your batteries. Otherwise you won’t be inspiring many creative ideas during your planning.
2. Laugh With Your Team
Once your entire planning team has recharged their individual batteries, you want to do something fun collectively to get your heads in the right place. Ideas might include scheduling your retreat outdoors in a team member’s backyard, starting the morning’s planning session with a few bounces on their trampoline to get the blood flowing and some laughs going, and grill your lunch. Save an important (but fun) topic for the afternoon over happy hour. Of course you still need to be careful about social distancing and using disposable utensils, but with a little thought, you can create a fun environment that will bring out better ideas and leave the team feeling driven and motivated.
3. Go Wild With Your Brainstorming
Depending on how much your industry has been affected by the pandemic, chances are you need to seriously re-evaluate your service offerings. Now is not the time to be meek. Try encouraging your team to embrace divergent thinking to capture new clients, address new needs, and deliver services in non-traditional ways. To begin, introduce your brainstorm session as a fun, no holds barred activity that will proceed rapid fire. Even make It a competition for the craziest idea and encourage your team to build on each other’s crazy idea. When we encourage the freedom to dream, move fast, and shout out answers, your team’s inhibitions go down and imagination goes up. We end up with a list of new ideas, that on the surface, may seem wild, but when scaled back just a bit, can become exemplary.
4. Revisit the Opportunities and Threats of Your SWOT
That carefully thought through SWOT Analysis is going to have to be reviewed and adjusted, particularly your Opportunities and Threats. COVID is likely changing your industry’s landscape. Dig into how things need to change and what new obstacles you need to navigate, as well as new opportunities you can capitalize upon. For example, an Opportunity for an architectural firm could be to offer a complimentary service to favorite customers where your team designs a quick sketch to transform their office into a safer Post-Covid environment.
5. Develop a New Plan With Bite Size Wins
I recommend that your revised strategic plan creates bite-size wins that your team can accomplish and feel good about. Remember, we still have to reach Phase 5. This is a marathon not a sprint before we reach the finish line. Nothing will re-energize your team like bite-size wins that are quickly recognized by your customers. The Japanese Kaizen principle of continuously taking small, simple steps that eventually lead to big improvement has a lot of wisdom for us these days. A bite-size win would be outlining a 60-Day plan listing the one or two most impactful steps to take strategically and accomplish before Labor Day.
If you follow these five post-COVID planning strategies, you will have a better roadmap for excelling through the remainder of 2020 and into next year. For my two client types, the Design & Construction Industry and Park Agencies, if you need help getting started, revving up your energy, or a delicious margarita recipe…give me a call. I’ve been organizing and facilitating strategic planning sessions for the past 25 years, and I’m here to serve you and your business’ growth.
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