Early in 2020, much of the world experienced various degrees of closure as a result of the coronavirus. Companies had to adapt to enable their employees to safely work, get products to consumers, and try to sustain, never mind grow, in a shocked world economy. In general, companies that thrived either had a strategy in place to manage the change or were able to adapt quickly enough that the impact was minimal.

In the first 22 days of March, 3 million restaurant jobs and $25 billion in sales were lost. Unfortunately, many were unable to adapt and closed. Others changed their model to adapt to policy changes as the world tried to understand the virus. Creative solutions like subscription meal services, grocery items, feeding the community were implemented. Other sectors enabled remote working for their employees. Just look at number of users, revenue, and share price for remote video platforms to see the impact of this approach. Almost two years in, companies are now crafting policies and procedures that enable employees to work from home more often, if not permanently. How did they do this? Growing up I always heard necessity was the mother of invention. I truly believe this, but also believe we should take or be in control of our situation as much as possible. This is my approach to coaching as well; define a direction and be intentional about getting there. It may not be a direct route, but actions and activities have a purpose.

Building a framework that allows proactive strategic thought while not under pressure of a crisis is key. Time spent planning is much better than time spent reacting under pressure. Let’s look at five key elements in a framework that will increase your innovation or ability to pivot if needed.

  1. Look ahead. The key to getting somewhere is to know where you are going. Build an environment that fosters and recognizes creative long-term thinking and ideas.
  2. Leadership. Empower the right person to set the culture and passion that drives strong team collaboration.
  3. Viral vision. People understand and align with the reason they work for a particular company. They are energized and that passion is tangible at all levels of the company.
  4. Collect data. Constant collection of insights from your customers, employees, and competition informs the strategy. It also enables effective risk assessment and mitigation as you look toward different time horizons.
  5. Plan for disaster. Formalized Business Continuity plans and processes that assess natural disasters, data privacy issues, or any other risks your company may face puts you in a position of proactive strength, rather than reactive weakness. While you may not cover all possible scenarios, similarities in responses are probable.

The key to all of this is to have a component of your strategy that fosters innovative thinking, plans for the future-state of the world, and creates contingency processes that can be executed as needed. To make it work, you need to set aside time and budget. This could be your breakthrough moment, or the company’s survival. What will you put in place to make sure you’re leading and driving the changes that support customer needsand wants 5-10 years from now? If you struggle to answer that question or don’t know how to get started, let’s talk.