Strategic Planning Through Complex Changes

Sheila Boysen, Mike Cherry & Lesley Page 2021

The last 15 months have changed many aspects of how our organizations function. This can throw a wrench into the most well laid strategic plans. We know, from our own experiences, that change is never easy. Add a pandemic into the mix and things have become quite complex.

Recent research on the topic of strategic planning through complex changes indicates a common theme of “the same but different.”  As we dive deeper into those simple words we can acknowledge that our strategic plans require us to look at some of the business practices we’ve seen emerge over the last year.  For many, these were topics already on the radar, although the pandemic seems to have accelerated how quickly these changes emerged.

By its nature, strategic planning has a long-term perspective, often with 3, 5 or 7-year plans.  The “same but different” approach combines the traditional long-term view with a shorter term one. For many of us, we could not fulfill long-term plans if we did not address the “fires” brought about by the pandemic thus changing the scope of strategic planning to embrace both a long and short term view.

The Need for Effective Leadership is Now

To make our way through these challenging times, we need effective leadership. In fact, one could argue that effective leadership is an imperative right now and if employees do not feel that leaders are role modeling effective behaviors, they can leave to find work elsewhere.

Effective leadership will focus on being emotionally intelligent leaders. This means creating both physical and psychological safety for employees at work.  A growing body of research has focused on important topics related to a leader’s role in fostering change and planning strategically:

–Healing leadership

–Caring, hope and compassion

Healing leaders, once associated only with the healthcare industry, are now common place in for-profit and non-profit organizations.  Healing leaders help their employees by creating supportive relationships based on trust, care and compassion. This is especially true today as many employees struggle to adjust to changing work schedules and demands. Healing leaders inspire, motivate and create hope.

While these concepts reflect a new approach for some, we are seeing they represent the “new normal” in terms of expectations.  In fact, leadership plays a major role in the ability to execute change and planning.


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