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2021 Strategy: Imagine the Unimaginable (the good, the bad, the ugly).

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

If businesses and brands didn't have a reason for transformation before, they certainly do now because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. This is obvious. But the question is how?

Over the past few years "strategy" seems to have taken a back seat to filling up content, vanity metrics, and efficiency over effectiveness.

But at one point in time, organizations, thanks to their strategic people, used to embed a contingency plan strategy or crisis management strategy into their business plans. But, alas, we have lost this discipline. And we need to bring it back.

But what are the reasons we need to elevate the importance of strategy in general, and more specifically business, brand and marketing transformation? I offer up the following reasons:

1. The first reason is obvious. Having been through SARS, Ebola, Mers, and others, we should have seen this coming and we should have had at least one page in the business plan for this unlikely event. And of course, this is more important for certain sectors and industries than others. And clearly now, in hindsight, the ROI of the time to scenario these events, likely spelled out in hours vs weeks, would have been worth it.

2. Secondly, this pending new reality is not yet clearly defined. We don't yet know what the new "new" will look like across work environments, global work travel, industry conferences, public gatherings, or social, entertainment and sporting events, let alone family gatherings. But spending time reviewing thought leaders and their books like Bill Gates or Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and his book from 2017, the Fourth Industrial Evolution, would not be a bad use of time. In his book from several years ago, Schwab highlights the challenges of the collision of the physical, digital and biological worlds and the lack of global oversight of this new reality and its implications.

A recent article by McKinsey stated:",..the traditional approach to strategy lies the assumption that executives, by applying a set of powerful analytic tools, can predict the future of any business accurately enough to choose a clear strategic direction for it". But this approach underestimates uncertainty. And they go on to provide a framework with four levels of uncertainty to help with strategy development here:

3. Thirdly, organizations, business and brands were already facing disruptive new competitors, new industry dynamics, business models and monetization strategies. So clearly, prudent and future-proofed companies have some homework to do to imagine the unimaginable.

4. Cleary defined strategies, be they business, brand, marketing or advertising focus the great power of creativity and general creative thinking. And to do this, we must get back into the discipline of being specific about what type of strategy we are talking about. Are we talking about corporate strategy, a business unit, sales, learning or other strategy?

5. Objectivity. By bringing in outside consultants, you get to hear not only fresh perspectives, but the perspectives from other industries.

6. Lastly, bringing in an Agile Perspective, as the International Institute of Business Analysis calls them, facilitates your teams being trained on being responsive to the market like never before. Imagine a start-up lens on a legacy company. You don't have to adopt all of the Agile business and marketing practices you are recommended. You can chose the ones that make sense for your company and map out Change Strategies accordingly.

I've had the pleasure of playing a role in business planning for Pepsi, Labatt, MasterCard and others. In my experience, setting the right tone and culture for the process to enable new thinking, and creative thinking is as important as the actual facts. And we at SuperMarket, can certainly help.

Happy to hear other's thoughts on how to make the process better during these most unpredictable days. Let us know.

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