How to Plan When We Don’t Know What’s Next

Let’s be honest. There’s no “recovery playbook” in this COVID-19 world. There are, however, lots of assumptions out there—assumptions about when things will return to normal, what that new norm might look like, and how we’ll be impacted. But no one really knows. In the meantime, as a leader or manager, you’ve got to take action or you’re dead in the water, as the saying goes. So if you haven’t done this already, the most important action you can take is around immediate planning for your business’s future. Here are three steps around how to plan when you don’t know what’s coming next:

Step 1. Get planning now. And prepare to develop two plans…first, a stability plan, focused on cash and whatever other “Vital Factors” (key drivers) are critical your business’s survival. Make sure it includes scenarios, naming what you’ll do if you hit more roadblocks. Then, right along with your stability plan, create and start using a second tool: your recovery plan. This is about what you are doing to recover (not just stabilize), whether that’s dusting projects off the shelf and actually putting them into development, skilling up staff, or improving processes and procedures for employees and/or customers that you’ve never been able to tackle until now.

Step 2. Beef Up Communication. In communicating with your employees, customers/clients, vendors, suppliers and other key partners, paint a clear picture of what’s going on and what people can expect. Be as clear as you can about both the stability and recovery plans, spelling out how those plans will roll out. You may not have all the answers or specifics, but be confident and have faith in the future of your organization and its ability to thrive again. Beef up your communication efforts; instead of monthly meetings, go weekly, for example. And be sure to listen, remaining empathetic and open to new ideas and solutions. Put in place additional avenues for input and feedback—and make sure to let people know they’ve been heard.

Step 3. Up your execution. In light of the crisis, you’re going to need to establish and sustain a solid discipline around executing your stability plan. And remember, the faster you pulse, the faster you change. For instance, if you’ve held monthly Vital Factor Team meetings, start meeting weekly or even daily with these leads, reviewing your dashboard and data, updating your plans as needed, and holding your people accountable to the process. As you ramp up execution and find yourself in this new cadence, you’ll find it’s easier to get those creative juices flowing again. Tap it all to nurture and expand upon your basic recovery plan, perhaps with innovative strategies, products or services that will position your organization for success in a post-COVID-19 environment.

Do you or your team members struggle with execution? Contact us! We can help you right now with your planning, accountability and execution.

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