Strategic planning can be a daunting effort, especially in times of extreme change and uncertainty. It’s incredibly difficult to hit a moving target and, for fear of failure, leaders may choose to either completely overreact and go way too big or underreact and do nothing at all. Neither are great options.

Finding a happy medium is possible. It requires an open and honest analysis of today’s reality, embracing ambiguity, and then looking to the future to see what’s possible. The pandemic was thrust upon us and it turned our world upside down – creating lasting change, resiliency, balance, and new workforce expectations. Do you feel threatened by that, or does it make you giddy with anticipation?

Innovative leaders know the business world will never return to “normal” and they’re taking this opportunity to reimagine the future of work and skill-up in the areas of adaptability, flexibility, and change. According to a recent JLL report, Reimagine: the new future of work to shape a better world, this transformation is leading to a “decoupling of traditional work and workstyles from the office and an evolution toward the workplace being a people-centric environment.”

Here is a simple equation to illustrate the critical importance of integrating business strategy and people strategy to create a tailored workplace strategy. There is not a one-size fits all solution. This equation, and it’s corresponding variables, is unique to you.

Not Sure Where to Begin? Let’s Get You Unstuck.

People typically get stuck because they paint an overly complicated or convoluted picture in their mind of what needs to happen and how to go about it. Don’t torture yourself with the unknowns and what-ifs. Instead, try to keep things simple, meaningful, and manageable based on the information you know today – realizing it could change completely at any moment. We’ve learned to be extremely adaptive during the pandemic, so this is nothing new.

Instead of forecasting or planning for one ideal solution, I recommend scenario planning to provide greater flexibility in an ever-changing environment. Come up with 2-3 potential options and build them out, knowing paths may shift as you travel towards future state. Pre-established triggers will help you identify when it’s time to reassess the scenarios, launch the next phase, or discontinue one of the scenarios altogether.

Most importantly, every planning effort must start with a crystal-clear purpose statement outlining your why. If your organization doesn’t have one, you need to make it a priority right away. It’s basically your true north – an orienting point in a spinning world – helping you focus priorities, efforts, resources, and investments. When an organization has a clearly defined purpose, they enjoy greater efficiencies because everyone is moving in the same direction and working towards a common goal.

Necessary steps in the strategic planning process include:

Defining current state. Where are we today and what needs to change? Why?

Envisioning future state. Where do we want to be in the future? Get informed on trends, best practices, market growth, and potential ROI. Read, research, conduct a market analysis, interview stakeholders, and consult with experts.

Scenario planning. Identify options that will get you from Point A to Point B. For each scenario, evaluate gaps and determine what needs to happen to be successful. This may mean skilling-up, acquiring a new company, launching an aggressive marketing campaign, or implementing new technology.

Establish Decision-Makers. In effort to stay nimble, assign a core team who is empowered to make decisions at various trigger points. The group should be small and consist of people who have experienced, professionally or personally, extreme trauma or change in their lives. They are the resilient ones.  

Below is a visual framework to help guide you through the strategic planning process.

If you have the time, resources, and comfort-level to take strategic planning on yourself – awesome. If not, I would be more than happy to help you through the process. I thoroughly enjoy creating roadmaps for success!