In a world where businesses have been hyper-focused on doing whatever it takes to survive during the pandemic and the phrase “post-pandemic” has become ubiquitous, leaders are now looking towards a future that promises to bring even more challenges that demand a quick response.
When crises arise, strategic plans are often affected dramatically. As they respond to the situation at hand, leaders understand that they have to keep the overarching business strategy in mind to ensure continued success—in the day-to-day work and in the future. To do this, leaders must navigate changes and challenges with a strategic mindset and purpose:
- Be nimble as they solve problems and make decisions that help ensure business success, even in chaos.
- Keep careful records of the actions taken by the team and the results of any new processes or procedures that arise out of necessity or are put aside during the crisis.
- Meet frequently with other leaders across the organization to share successes and challenges and brainstorm solutions.
- Demonstrate agility and resilience so they are prepared to adapt, shift, and transform the business.
You might ask, “How can leaders strategically move beyond a crisis or challenge and prepare for future uncertainty or change?” Keep in mind that a strategic plan can no longer be a static document subject only to one- or five-year evaluations. Instead, the creation of strategy must be ongoing. To help leaders reset the strategy, provide team members with direction, model a strategic mindset, and inspire new levels of strategic thinking across the organization, leaders must look at the crisis from two perspectives: evaluating the situation and reimagining the future.
Evaluating the Situation
Once the business begins to move beyond the crisis, leaders need to avoid starting where they left off with the old strategic plan. Instead, they can take advantage of the opportunity to reevaluate and reimagine the strategic plan as well as make adjustments that will help the organization better manage the next challenge.
- Take a fresh look at the industry, the business, and the strategy. What has changed?
- Are there new opportunities for expanding the business, opening a new product line, or targeting a new market?
- How has this event affected your access to resources (people, materials, production, etc.)?
- Ask every business unit to review its processes and procedures through the lens of the crisis.
- What needed to change and how did that affect the strategy?
- What worked, what didn’t, and why?
- What processes were changed or developed in response to the crisis? Will these changes continue to benefit the business in the future?
- Which changes or responses to the crisis pulled you further away from your current business strategy?
- Ask business units to think of themselves as a “business within the business” and focus on how their part of the business can thrive, rather than how it can merely survive, based on what they learned during the crisis.
- What new avenues for growth or innovation were revealed during the crisis? What new processes or procedures are needed to strengthen the business so it can respond more successfully to the next event?
Reimagining the Future
The key to getting ahead of future challenges is first understanding that strategies can and should shift as the organization continues to evolve in response to changes in the larger market. Leaders can prepare for unknowns by regularly reviewing the current strategy through a lens that asks, “What if?”
- Think about potential future challenges and try to anticipate the impact that given scenarios might have on industry, technology, workforce, supply chain, or customers. It is critical that you are strategically attuned and understand the dynamic forces that shape your world and the worlds of your key stakeholders including external and internal customers.
- Think about how the impact of these scenarios might cause the business’ strategy to shift. Brainstorm solutions for these situations. This is the perfect time to think creatively, ask questions, and discuss new ideas. What are the potential strategic opportunities and threats?
- Consider new and future strategic initiatives based on your analysis. This is a great opportunity to identify innovations, adjacent prospects, and other strategic changes that the organization could make.
For organizations to remain relevant and thrive in the long term, they need to reshape their strategies to meet the needs of the market, and leaders are central to strategic planning and execution at the functional level. Invite leaders from every business unit to operate with an enterprise mindset, lead strategy at their level, question the way things are done, and regularly identify new opportunities. Make it a key part of your ongoing strategic planning.
Are your leaders prepared to lead the organization out of crisis and transform the business to meet customer demands in the long term? Are they prepared for future challenges? Call us or visit our website to learn more about how CMOE can help you build strategic leaders and create a strategic-thinking mindset across your organization with our Strategic Leadership and Applied Strategic Thinking® learning experiences.