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ASSOCIATION TRANSFORMATION

Virtual Strategic Planning

The onset of the global pandemic and ensuing lock-down saw businesses suddenly on the brink of seeing large amounts of work disappearing.

Much as we all like to pretend that we had strategically planned and pivoted for such events, we were in fact all just reacting to events out of our control.

Although it is difficult to plan for such an event, had enough thought and planning been given as to what impact the subsequent “fallout” would have on holding physical gatherings? These face-face meetings can be so important in creating the energy and creativity around topics and projects that organisations deal with both day to day and longer term. 

All of this leads to the question of whether the strategic planning pre-pandemic was visionary enough?

Much of what organisations had done before the COVID crisis was stale, template based and formulaic, so what have we learnt over the last year that we can take forward post-pandemic?

With the increase in “virtual exhaustion”, the concept of online working has become a negative in the mind of many people. However, there are many benefits to working in this way - things need to be more concise and intention focused. What may have been discussed in a board room over a day and a half now needs to be deliberated in a series of “Strategic Sprints”, delivered in sessions of 90 – 100 minutes to encourage focus and total engagement.

The need to operate in a virtual world does put more onus on the staff and consultants to do more to ensure that the Board is educated and comfortable with the technology being used, as well as preparing more material in advance.

Some would argue that the downside of on-line meetings is that we miss the natural ‘break out’ points, where teams can bond and engage in informal conversations or perhaps take part in smaller group activities that assist in the strategic planning, as well as lightening the intensity of the planning process. Breaks can be built into the time frame of virtual meetings however to allow members to go away and research or consider proposals before reconvening days or weeks later.

As we move forward in a post COVID world, a hybrid model is surely the most obvious next step for organisations. It is of course important that we reconnect in the physical world, but we mustn’t lose the benefits of working on-line. It allows us to bring in expertise from across the globe to strengthen our boards and develop good governance practice. There are vast opportunities for this positive global engagement.

Whether you call it a strategic plan or a recovery plan, you need a road map to you desired future!

Don’t be afraid of virtual strategic planning, it doesn’t have to be the horror show you may have been warned about. See it instead as a way to engage more people in your process and increase the efficiency of your organisation. 

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