Strategy Matters

Your long-term business strategy: is it still relevant?

2020 will go down as the year business changed. Virtually every organisation, across every sector, has been affected in some way, whether it’s working from home, being unable to open, a change in shopping habits or a drop or surge in demand for a particular product.

That change has been rapid too – overnight, in some cases, while other things like the adoption of new business tools to carry on working have been more gradual.

All of which has left many business strategies that were created pre-pandemic high and dry. With the crisis still with us and little prospect of a return to ‘normal’ any time soon without a vaccine, it would be all too easy to get locked into short-term thinking, playing a waiting game before deciding what to do next.

But that’s exactly why the ideal time to focus on the longer-term is now.

Change = opportunity

No business can remain in limbo for long. And it’s not enough to wait until the crisis is over before recovering revenues – for many, speed is of the essence. If the pandemic has shown us anything though, it’s how adaptable businesses can be when they need to be.

Take one Chinese car rental company as an example. Come lockdown, business all but dried up; but they adapted by targeting workers who didn’t want to risk using public transport, and offering ‘no-touch’ car pick-ups. A campaign that normally took three weeks to pull together was done in three days, and within seven weeks business was back to 90% year-on-year. And there are many more examples, where businesses have quickly brought forward plans to digitise their business, operate delivery services or switch manufacturing capability into new areas.

So agility is key, and some companies have surprised themselves at just how much faster and better they’ve worked than just a few months ago. But the real trick is to identify where the opportunities lie. Not just in the short-term, but over a longer period.

As with any crisis, there are essentially three phases: Respond, Recover and Renew. The first is the action you take to keep people safe and make sure your basic functions can still operate. The second is a more organised effort to stabilise the business, putting a plan in place to restore its strength by identifying where you need to re-open, re-hire and re-budget, for example.

But the third phase is the most important. This is where the board plans for the long-term, whatever it may hold. Taking the lessons learnt from the crisis, and applying them to make the company stronger and more resilient, possibly more agile. Drawing up a strategy based on the business operating in new, better ways, laying the foundations for a better, stronger future. Getting the right people in place, identifying where the market lies and collaborating with the right suppliers, stakeholders, even competitors to make the most of the new landscape.

That’s where effective leadership comes into its own. Your senior people need an agile mind-set, geared towards recognising opportunities and reimagining your organisation’s future. Planning for the long-term may need the courage to make difficult decisions to set a direction that safeguards the business for the future.

Now is the right time to revisit your long-term plans and ensure your senior team is fully aligned with your business strategy.

 

An objective view of your business and where its future opportunities lie can prove invaluable in formulating your new strategy. That’s where the Strategy Matters team can help. Just contact us on alan@strategy-matters.co.uk to find out more.
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