3 Critical Steps in Continuity Planning
In the era of COVID-19 and the unprecedented change it has brought, most organizational leaders have been thrust into making decisions they may not have been prepared to make. The long-term, robust economy has come to a screeching halt (or at least a significant pause). Leadership muscles that have not been used in a long time are now being tested.
Everyone is scrambling to gain clarity and decide the best path forward for themselves, their families, and their organizations. Hard decisions have been made and will need to be made. How do you know what the right path forward is when things are changing every day
Make a plan!
As my amazing wife loves to quote,
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
As much as we all wish to be on the other side of this challenge, there will always be another challenge, so how do we plan for these many stages while maintaining a focus on the future we desire to birth? We start by creating a continuity plan that FITs your needs.
This is not the same as succession planning, but that may be a part of your continuity plan. At a basic level, a continuity plan is a plan to bring focus, insight, and tactics together in the most effective way possible to maintain personal and organizational health and vitality. It’s an ongoing cycle that allows for refinement and modification.
In a recent live stream, I talked about “Hummingbird Leadership.” If you’ve ever watched a hummingbird fly, they are unique in the avian world. They naturally display the OODA loop. Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. They do it often. They are making intentional decisions based on their observations and the need to reorient in a changing environment. They decide. They act. They move forward. This is a great example of how we as leaders should practice leadership. Continuity planning is the context in which we can practice the OODA loop.
In times of dynamic change and challenge, the ability to succeed lies in exercising a full complement of leadership muscles. Much like “circuit training” in the gym (having a well-considered process to guide exercise) will ensure that all muscle groups will be developed in a balanced approach to build strength and get the results you desire.
In continuity planning, that high level guiding process is Focus, Insight, Tactics – FIT.
With change and challenge, the key to moving forward is to break the VUCA whirlwind down into specific areas of focus. This provides a path to clarity that leads to doing the next right thing.
Focus is the determination of the key areas that make up your continuity plan. If it’s critical to surviving today and thriving tomorrow, it should be included in your plan. Focus will guide you to the critical outcomes necessary to survive today so you can thrive tomorrow.
So what components might be included as important areas of focus?
- Financial resources
- Risk factors/mitigation
- Business processes
- Capital assets
- Intellectual Property
- Revenue generation
Once you have identified all the areas of focus you need in your continuity plan, the next step is to gain insight into each of these areas. How? Leverage good data by assessing and gathering reports and surveys and by talking to subject matter experts. There are many ways to gain insight.
“From insight comes clarity. From clarity comes better decision making.
There is one caveat. Don’t let this step be a speed bump to moving forward. You may never have all the information you’d like to have. Get the best data you can, then start to create your continuity plan. You can always reflect and refine as you move forward. That’s hummingbird leadership.
I know. “Where is the strategy,” right?! It is your plan, and it will change as time reveals more information. That is why tactics are crucial right now. A plan without execution never comes to life.
Think of tactics as the roll out of your plan. How should you communicate the plan? What needs to change? Who will play key roles? Where will you attain the required resources?
Key elements of tactics:
- What is the specific outcome needed from this tactic
- What are the changes that must be made to achieve this outcome
- Who has the capacity and skill set to execute parts of this tactic most effectively
- What resources will be needed
- What message do you want to send both internally and externally about this effort
- Which processes will have the greatest impact
- What is the best utilization of all human capital to achieve this outcome
- How will this be communicated
- What accountability measures will be put in place specifically for this tactic
These are examples of the key elements of tactics to achieve a specific outcome. You may have several different outcomes identified in your continuity plan. Think of this as an iterative process where each specific outcome needed has a clear tactic to achieve it then leads to the next important area of focus.
FIT – make your continuity plan FIT your specific needs.
When all critical areas of focus are defined, insight into each is attained and specific tactics are developed for your desired outcomes. You have your initial continuity plan. Remember that this is a working plan that is dynamic and should be reviewed and revised as often as needed.
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Steve Goodner is the President of GSCFIT, and a Preferred Partner with Six Seconds, the world’s largest emotional intelligence community. GSCFIT is dedicated to equipping and empowering individuals, leaders and organizations through Focus, Insight and Transformation (FIT).