Even In a Pandemic, Keep Your Eye On The Prize

The post-crisis look-back evaluation of best-in-class performers will inevitably analyze those organizations that were most nimble and savvy in responding to the challenges and demands of the moment. While such organizational agility is obviously essential, the real post-crisis winners will be those organizations that progressively refined and sharpened their strategic focus while responding to the immediate threats and needs.

While this crisis still has a long runway ahead – and the future remains very unclear – it’s nonetheless critically important that every Executive Team devote at least 20% of their time envisioning and reflecting on their future state. Leadership teams should engage in “strategic sensing and analysis” to ensure they are best positioned to win in the long-term by asking the following questions:

– How has the crisis impacted our ability to execute effectively towards our vision and mission?

– How are we balancing our short- and long-term goals amidst the demands of the crisis?

– To what extent is our team clear on their purpose and charge amidst the vision?

– How engaged is our team in the work that matters most right now?

Highly-effective leaders need to balance the short term need for execution and crisis management without compromising their vision and future aspirations.

– Organizations: In 2019, the 20 global companies that had achieved the highest-impact transformations of the decade all had one thing in common: a newly strengthened sense of purpose.

– Leaders: The most-effective leaders are able to embed vision into their day-to-day efforts, while constantly challenging their assumptions and their teams to “sense and analyze” the world around them.

– Teams: The leaders who manage the day-to-day and lead with vision will emerge from the crisis with companies that are stronger and more resilient than they were before and are able to engage their teams meaningfully throughout.

Being able to “walk and chew gum” is an over-used but still relevant phrase. In today’s challenging times, the best CEOs and leadership teams need to not only be smart and decisive to survive the near-term but also appropriately focused on refining and evolving their longer-term, strategic focus. It’s a time to be even more humble and honest as you look both inside and out of your organization. To step out of your comfort zone – and above the fray of the moment – and openly assess the unknowns of the future. And then use those learnings to better inform and progressively sharpen your vision and strategy.

By keeping your eye on the prize, you’ll ensure your organization and team not only survive the crisis of the moment but really thrive among the best-in-class performers on the other side. It takes discipline, but you can get there. Here’s How.

1. Envision – Revisit vision, mission, key organizational questions. Create “future state” or “aspiration” 5-10 years out

2. Interrogate – What is known or stable? What is in flux? Assess customer needs (current, evolving, future). Align resonance of products and services and overall capabilities.

3. Assess – SWOT Analysis. Resilience and Confidence Assessment.

4. Strategize – Future Back Analysis. Annual benchmarks and milestones. Cost, prioritization.

5. Operationalize – Present Forward Analysis. Quarterly Benchmarks and milestones. MOS at the organizational level.

6. Connect – “Rallying Cry” or “Purpose Statement” is established. Engagement.

7. Engage – 10-20% of time keeping a “pulse” on vision and future state (Strategic Sensing Exercise). 80-90% of time managing and optimizing execution of operational plan.

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