Sprinting Through the 2021 Strategic Planning Process

Many organizations are typically well into the process by September and are getting ready to submit budgets for approval so they can confirm Q1 2021 activities. However, with all that has occurred in 2020, this year is going to be different. And it should be.

Three adults in casual dress and face masks are writing and collaborating on a business strategy on a interior glass wall in a modern office.

Uncertainty is difficult to plan for and embracing it can be a little scary as it doesn’t always line up nicely with headcount and initiative planning. But we need to accept it and get used to it because it’s here for at least the foreseeable future and your C-Suite doesn’t have the luxury or the appetite to sit back and play “let’s wait and see.”

Many will feel pressure to do something – anything – so that nervous stakeholders feel that you’re doing everything you can. However, doing something for the sake of doing something isn’t productive, and in most cases won’t resolve the problem. Long-term planning, multi-year projects, and even seasonally based campaigns may be too risky if your industry is still actively recovering or expecting a hit if (or when) things get worse.

The better way to approach the strategic process we’re currently facing is to be deliberate by carefully planning activities that we can manage and control to deliver a defined result. These activities need to be shorter-term engagements, something we can plan, develop, stand up within a month, or, at the most, a quarter. A series of planning sprints like this provides the ability to be nimble, to adjust quickly, and to shift direction quickly without a complicated extraction period.

Of course, that can be easier said than done. Agile-based planning can be difficult to wrap your head around if you’re used to a more traditional process. It also forces you to sometimes make decisions with less than all the information you might typically hold out for, and it means more frequent and rapid cycles of intense planning and implementation.

But, with the current climate we’re all working within, it also creates an opportunity to work toward a longer-term goal while still maintaining a degree of flexibility within a framework of deliberately planned, rapid deployments that you can swap in and out depending on the situation you’re working with.

In many ways, by taking this agile-based approach you’re now doing business the way your customers are behaving – and that will always be a good thing.

Article by Dave Cliche, President & CEO at TMD