If nothing else, 2020 has caused every business large and small to look at their approach and strategy in fresh ways. As someone that works with entrepreneurs building businesses every day, I am often asked for my top tips for planning success. Here is my response for business leaders thinking about the rest of 2021 and strategising for growth:
1. Plan for multiple ‘new normals’
We’re seeing new variants of the virus and waves of infection surging every day, in every market around the world. If you assume we are on the way out of the disruption and things are returning to your old version of normal, there is a good chance you will be caught out. Every business needs to plan for multiple operating modes depending upon the markets you’re playing in.
2. Place several future-looking bets and be counterintuitive.
Support your plans for multiple new normals by going ahead and place bets on the different scenarios you have forecast. This could be recruiting new skillsets into your organisation or setting up an office in a market you think is going to thrive. But don’t follow the herd. Always seek to improve current market solutions and clearly differentiate from competitors.
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3. Access global talent and use time zones wisely.
If your company has been effective in deploying a remote working model think about global talent that could compliment your team in your new way of working. Boxing clever with different time zones can also deliver significant resourcing advantages. The world is your oyster, so use it.
4. Foster serendipity working from home or in the office.
Make sure you plan ways to allow teams to interact with people they don’t work with every day to allow the cross transfer of ideas and culture. If you are planning a phased return to work, be careful not to just return in your usual working teams. If you’re going to stay in a remote working model you have to figure out how to build in those serendipitous contacts and help teams to mix beyond their functional requirements.
5. Be bold and go big.
Now is the time to get aggressive. There’s been a lot of pent-up demand in a number of industries. It’s time to be a first mover in the new economy that is emerging. Go for returns that are going to be substantial, take the chance and take some actions that are beyond the normal.
Above all, the pandemic has taught us not to be complacent. We are now all too well aware that things can change for the better or the worse almost in an instant. There is no time like the present to embrace change, explore what this new normal has delivered and make sure you are well-positioned to capitalise on some of the incredible opportunities that there are out there now.
Written by James Berry, Director of the UCL MBA