How To Plan For The Unpredictable In 5 Steps

December is #WriteABusinessPlan month, with now traditionally being a time for reviewing goals and preparing for the year ahead.

Since the start of the pandemic, planning and communication has been a central and fundamental pillar of the national and global response. Crises by their nature are unpredictable, but it is best practice for every organisation to have a strategy and protocols in place to meet the range of challenges that follow in their wake. Whether in times of crisis or not, business growth and resilience rely on good planning. Ahead of the new year, take time to evaluate, set fresh goals and look ahead.

Five points that should be incorporated into your planning process include:

1. Flexibility

We are going through a period of huge change, and COVID-19 guidance, restrictions and lockdown procedures have led to new ways of working. Not knowing quite what the future holds should be built into your business plan. Ensure that goals are regular reviewed throughout the year and reassessed based on current context. Build in emergency response protocols, so that you are able to respond rapidly to emerging issues and make quick, informed decisions.

2. Authenticity

Whilst messaging and action should be adapted to the situation, there should be a consistent narrative that is authentic to both your organisation and your audiences. Your plan should be aligned to your company values, culture, and broader purpose. Provided you can demonstrate accountability, authenticity, and visibility, it’s OK to communicate in a crisis without having all the answers.

3. Listening

Maintaining your principles in a crisis is critical, but so is keeping your plan attuned to the fast-moving landscape. Audience insight is essential to make sure your messaging is relevant and relevant to what stakeholders care about here and now. Customer opinion ebbs and flows, as do environmental hot topics, political, economic, and societal trends. Understanding audience motivations, and barriers can help to deliver more effective communications and commercial strategies.

4. Context

Ensure your plan is based on research, data, insight, content, marketing, and measurement. When developing your plan bring together representatives from different departments and skill backgrounds to ensure cross-functional working and collaboration to a shared goal.

5. Leadership

Although we are going through a time of huge change and disruption, some things will always stay the same, including the need for clear communications. This is essential to good leadership. Keeping on top of the situation around you, knowing your audience inside out, and understanding the behaviour changes you seek to encourage will help keep your business and communications planning relevant throughout the course of the year, and beyond.

If you would like help with your business and communications planning for 2021 please get in touch