Stopping to reflect on how much life has fundamentally changed in the last week. Who could have predicted businesses shutting down, schools closing, restaurants and bars shuttering, toilet paper becoming more valuable than gold, etc., etc. Will we ever go back to normal? What will be the new normal?
As an advisor who works with businesses and organizations on strategic issues, I hate to say that crisis management is the strategic issue that is surpassing all others. I have seen blogs, posts, podcasts and articles detailing how to stick to your strategies in a time of crisis and change. Should we challenge this hypothesis and look at this as a time of reinvention and transformation? Throwing your previous strategies out the window and starting over? Or for those fainter of heart, at least reevaluating our priorities?
When I was speaking with a client yesterday, we discussed how the environment we surveyed and considered last November when putting together their current vision has been blown to smithereens. His comment to me was surprising: He said that one positive thing to come out of this current situation is that it forced his company to throw out legacy ways of thinking that were resistant to change and that his team is modernizing their operations, enabling them to work from home and creating team collaboration methods they had resisted in the past. Another observation was how a focus on the little things creates the biggest impact — making sure their folks’ fundamental needs were being fulfilled, as well as taking the time to connect with clients and discuss how they are coping with the changes.
Many of these clients were set to report to their Boards next month on the progress of their current strategic plans and initiatives. Do we report on a plan that was created in an environment that seems so fundamentally different now? Without exception, each executive told me that life has forever changed. We need to become more agile, nimbler, even more creative. With so much uncertainty, looking at the horizon in smaller, bite-size chunks and reevaluating strategic priorities weekly, monthly, quarterly is the prescription for the times we are in.
When the dust settles — and it will — do we go back to the strategic plans of old, or do we remain in a mode of strategic thinking as part of daily life? Time will tell; however, I can’t but stop and think that the highest performers amongst us will be those who can adapt quickly while focusing on what really matters.