Whether an organization calls their plans a strategic plan, operational plan, future goals or roadmap — or has an unwritten vision of where they are headed — moving from short-term actions to long-term thinking can be difficult in a time of crisis.
There is a temptation to take things day by day and dwell in a more reactive mode, or even wait out times of uncertainty until they are clearer, however a long-term vision and focus remains critical.
If your organization has taken the time to undergo a planning process and has been operating with a governing plan, where do you start to see if your plan is valid under rapidly changing and unknown circumstances? By reviewing the following items, critical adjustments can be made quickly.
- Vision:Does the current vision need to be updated, or does it still ring true?
- Goals:Examine the short- and long-term financial metrics or key performance indicators and determine if a reforecast of budgets will need to occur now and/or more often as circumstances may dictate.
- Assumptions: Review those made at plan creation and evaluate whether they are valid, changing, or no longer exist. Think green for no changes, yellow for revisit, and red for no go!
- Situational analysis:What organizational strengths have helped you navigate the crisis and how can they be leveraged? Review what weaknesses or challenges have risen to the surface and create plans to remediate. Survey your business lines, what have they learned during this time? This after-action review may accelerate some strategies or actions based on these observations.
- Strategies and actions:Review each strategy envisioned to reach targets and evaluate the timing and prioritization of each.
- Scenarios:Creation of different future scenarios needs to be added into chosen assumptions.Stress test by creating best case, medium case, and worst case.
- Governance: Get comfortable with the willingness and ability to review and revise plans more often, becoming more nimble and agile, reforecasting more quickly, and understanding the changing expectations of your internal team and clients.
In the recent past, best practices have dictated that organizations at least review plans quarterly and update annually. In a time of rapid, unplanned, and uncertain changes, resiliency of your organization relies upon reviewing plans and action steps more frequently, such as monthly and even weekly.
Strategic planning takes many forms, and whatever form it is in for your organization, it cannot stop in times of uncertainly. If you have a plan, now is the time to review and adjust. If you do not, finding a way to think beyond the world of what it is, to the world of what will be can make or break your organization. If you employ the review items listed above as a part of your regular routine, future thinking as a skill and a discipline will become second nature.
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