The Next Normal: Change Your Game Plan or Become Irrelevant

by Charlie Smith 

Change and disruption are the next normal. C-suites and boards of directors must learn how to become agile, make decisions fast and get ahead of the change curve. They will need to think and act differently.

There is a lot we don’t know about what the near-term future holds for us. However, there are two things that we know to be true: There will be more, not less, disruption going forward; and operating budgets and strategic plans will need to flex — if not be totally revamped. Change occurs, shift happens. 

There are many ways to approach change. Here are five actions organizations can take to ensure their game plan will change.

Work as one — virtually: CEO and board trust and transparency are mission-critical.

En-visioning scenarios: Create “Step-Ahead” teams to role play and game-out scenarios.

Identify key triggers for action: Develop action plans prior to events. Contingencies and processes need to be nimble.

Make bold moves/no-regrets decisions with limited data: Understand business has been disrupted and will continue to be disrupted at an alarmingly fast pace. Constant contact and transparency between the CEO and board are required to enable rapid-fire decision making.

Do it fast … change as needed.

Here is how one organization approached COVID-19 crisis planning. A major nonprofit found its business model upended and its client base evaporate, forcing its CEO to move into action immediately. 

SENS: Shock + Economic Engine + Next-Normal + Strategic Framework

When discussing its management teams’ actions over the preceding 90 days, the nonprofit’s CEO shared these lessons learned: Speed is essential. Transparency is a requirement. “I Don’t Know” is a sign of strength. 

As we think about the future — and the number of decisions that will need to be made — leaders should sit quietly for a moment and consider everything good that’s come out of the pivoting and crisis management they have done since the disruption started. They should think about how they and their team have responded. Decide to celebrate the things that have gone well and show grace in the lessons-learned. Then think about how to embrace and lean in to the next normal. They should take satisfaction in knowing they will continue to pivot and their team will develop agility and resilancy as new competencies. 

Make SENS out of the environment and keep charging forward.  

Charlie Smith is managing partner at the Weber Group. Smith brings decades of experience in the financial services industry, including an extensive background working within organizations t o develop high-performance teams. His focus is working with nonprofit CEOs, executive directors and board chairs to build smarter high-performance organizations focused on strategy and execution. He is a BoardSource Certified Consultant, a certified 6 Sigma Black Belt and a Master Black Belt in planning. 

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