Life is certainly different in a C-19 world. Please note, it’s not going to be post-COVID, because whether or not we like it, this will be life as we know it. At the time of writing this, New Zealand is about to head back into a space where businesses can operate with Level 3 restrictions. Though this approach comes with restrictions and guidelines not too different to Level 4.
Coming out of a Level 4 lockdown, I am sure there are 100’s of things an owner, manager, team member wants to do. The natural reaction will be to get back to doing what you haven’t been able to do - your job. This will likely mean doing as much work you can possibly do to ‘catch up’.
It sounds perfectly logical, get busy, start earning money. This might be OK short term, but long term you will be losing ground to your competitors. The counterintuitive approach will be to ease into this new world, the world where priorities and needs have changed. This is why it will be so important before you pick up the tools of your trade, you need to spend time with your team. This is the start of your first plan. Plan One.
What do you focus on in this plan? Simply the tactical decisions that will carry you through the first month or so. Ask the team, what does the next 1,2, 4 weeks look like? This is new for everyone, so take time to understand the concerns, the opportunities your teams have. Put strategies in place to resolve these where you can. Understanding the basics for the team. From a business perspective, start talking about issues such as:
New policies and procedures.
Reset, talk and communicate responsibilities and expectations in a C-19 work environment.
Talk about work priorities. What is important and what isn’t.
Set new weekly goals and objectives.
Business improvement - strategies to stop the ‘old’ frustrations
This is your plan for now, your tactical plan to get you through the first month or so in the best shape possible. The economy isn’t running at 100% yet, so take the time to look at where you can make improvements to the business. Not big changes, the small frustrations, the small stones in the team’s shoes. What did you consistently spend time firefighting, fix the causes. What were the biggest gripes the team always talked about, let them fix those issues. You have time, use it wisely.
You didn’t stop work yesterday, it was over a month ago. You will never have a better chance to set up a workplace with a different mindset. Think about how you can encourage an improvement mindset, one that starts your operational excellence journey. How you can help your team to speed up the plan, do, check, act (PDCA) cycle. Enabling continuous improvement to occur throughout your business should be an integral part of Plan One. You will never have a better opportunity to build this into your business. Once the team has this in palace and feeling comfortable, have it under control, begin to focus on the second plan, Plan Two.
This is your revised “long term plan”. In this context for the foreseeable future, long term means 12 months, tops. Strategic plans of 2-5 years are no longer viable, the business cycle has reduced significantly over the past few decades. As the team are actioning your tactical plan, get the leadership team around the campfire and use this space to focus on:
Resetting the “why” of the business - your purpose, your priorities.
Managing the cash flow without shortcuts.
Reviewing your supply chain. Look at weaknesses, use Deming’s philosophy of bringing your supply chain as close as possible.
What is your long term game plan to improve organisational performance.
Review plans around improving profitability through performance (not redundancies).
This shouldn’t be more than two pages, ideally one. Plan for the next 12 months, prepare for the next 6 months, adjust your tactical plan for the next 1-2 months.
Then think about how you will communicate the plan with your team, giving them the true north. Also ask for feedback, suggestions, input. They will be the ones delivering the plan, so involve them as much as possible.
Having a process to review the plans will be the most important component. Both Plan One & Plan Two. Just because you have put them together, don’t think it is the end of the process, far from it. Talk to your leadership team how you are going to keep it alive. Reviewing the plans consistently, if not daily, weekly. Those organisations that have an agile, nimble approach to business planning will remain relevant. They will be able to identify the next opportunity faster, innovate quicker, becoming more efficient at adapting.