WHAT’S NEXT IN YOUR FUTURE?
Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Faith Works! Article by Pastor and CMO Mark Coronna, Copyright 2021
Just when many of us thought we could see our way out of the pandemic comes a wave four with the Delta variant and a host of somewhat related issues: labor availability, supply chain problems, technology acceleration, looming inflation, and uncertainty about government policy or funded programs.
How do you develop any kind of long-term plan for your organization when uncertainty becomes such a dominant concern? There was actually a time during the intensity of the pandemic last year when planning was easier because it felt like we had a routine going—even if it wasn’t the routine any of us asked for or were totally comfortable with. Regular Zoom calls replaced office meetings, sales visits became virtual, and the idea of more digitally-enabled business transactions didn’t seem like such a stretch.
Many of those behaviors persist and represent pretty fundamental changes in the way we market, sell and service our customers. A study by a major consulting firm highlights that the majority of business executives are now comfortable buying products online, without ever having a sales representative visit them.
How do we take what some would call the “new normal” and develop two- or three-year business plans when it looks like many employees are resisting returning to the office, when supply chain problems impact products and inventory across most categories and even more troublesome, when no one seems to be able to sort supply issues out or even to forecast when supply chain programs might get back to becoming more seamless. And that’s not all the uncertainty that exists, either. What about the increasingly rapid evolution and adoption of technology? What about the government’s ability to control inflation? What will major governmental investments, like the infrastructure bill contain, and what will they mean to your business?
Historically, planning has been driven by past performance and represents an incremental or next logical step for a business or a non-profit. That doesn’t cut it when the market context we are all operating in is so dynamic. This type of “inside-out” planning doesn’t work with rapidly evolving market conditions.
A better approach to developing a plan with higher confidence starts by recognizing the uncertainty. Your ability to anticipate and mitigate challenges that your business will inevitably face will demonstrate how well success will be achieved. This approach is called scenario planning and is an “outside-in” view of planning. It’s where we track the development of key factors (political, social, economic, technology) that will impact future success and make sure that businesses continue to build competencies needed to be successful as those factors begin to dominate.
Here’s one example. We know that labor availability issues will not resolve soon, and current problems finding and retaining a skilled workforce will continue for the near future. Demographics tell us that. You cannot instantly create more 20-year-olds. The pool is fixed. What do you need to do to be successful in a market with more competition for talent?
Here’s another example. We know that increasingly, both consumers and businesses want to do business more digitally. We are adapting to digital chat and other forms of engagement which are enabled by technology and are not person to person. That train is leaving the station, but will you catch it in time? What technology initiatives are in your plan?
Planning in an uncertain world is very similar to trying to understand God’s plan for each of us while laying out what we think we want to do and what we think our plan should include. Think about God’s plan as the “outside-in” and our own efforts as “inside-out.” The best approach is to have them meet up. In lean times and in times of strong profitable growth, the best spiritual approach to understanding our situation can only be realized when we have a God who sees the big picture. For Him, there is no uncertainty. For us, if we believe and put our trust in Him, we can be sure the Lord will see us through the challenges. Spend time with the Lord and listen for what he has for you. That prepares us for the future—and one which will be significantly better than any plan we can envision if we go it alone.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”