Plan for the Coming Year or Is it Pointless to Make Plans?


Many see 2020 as the year that demonstrated the pointlessness of making plans. Even if you’re tempted to agree with this conclusion, you can reframe it to state that this year proved that rigid, mechanical thinking defeats the purposes of innovation and growth.

Let’s learn from the tragedies that characterized 2020 and recognize the necessity of flexible and innovative thinking and the importance of having already high-functioning teams that can engage in that kind of thinking.

Step One: The Vision

Paint your vision of what your company and you as a leader can accomplish in broad strokes. Begin at the conclusion. How and where do you want to envision your business and yourself at the end of 2021? If your company has a mission statement (and it should), take a careful look at it. Does it need modification? Transformation? A good first step might be to confer with other leaders within the C-Suite and in your organization and discuss your business’s purpose.

Step Two: How to Get There

You don’t want to do this on your own. 2020 has also taught us that cooperation is key. Engage your team. Have brainstorming sessions.

Always keep this thought in the forefront: Brainstorming is meant to provide a safe space for all ideas. Any idea, no matter how far-fetched it may sound, can trigger a better idea in another person’s mind.

Brainstorming also assumes a crucial role in these uncertain, rapidly changing times. It’s vital to encourage your team members to take the risk of speaking their minds freely. That encourages spontaneous idea generation, which is a key ingredient to the turning-on-a-dime kind of thinking and action needed at the present.

Assign one person to serve as a scribe who writes down all ideas. Encourage others to keep their own notes. If you’re not already working with the motto that what doesn’t get written down gets lost, adopt it for 2021.

After one or more brainstorming sessions, ask each participant to make written proposals. Come together again to discuss these proposals.

Step Three: How to Implement Proposals

As an example, say that one team member thinks blogs should be posted twice a week instead of once. She delivers a convincing argument that this will increase engagement.

Address these questions to the proposal:

  • How will that happen?
  • Do more people have an interest in writing blog posts?
  • How will the subject matter be decided?

Follow this procedure with any of the areas for which your team is responsible.

Step Four: Restructuring for Innovation

It’s been my experience that working remotely has led to the need for more meetings. This makes sense. You’re not going to run into someone at the water cooler and say, “Hey, I just had an idea. Can we talk about it?”

Online meetings are necessary, but they can lead to “Zoom fatigue.” A helpful way to minimize this is to reduce screen time by having participants present reports and opinions in writing prior to a meeting so that all those attending have an opportunity to consider and form responses to this material.

It’s also important to circulate written agendas so that, again, participants can think about the topics and propose additions, if necessary.

The Value of the Written Word

Business leaders have never had a greater need for communication that is both streamlined and detailed. This has the rewarding side effect of curtailing those who may be a little too fond of the sound of their own voices. It also encourages all members of a team to sharpen their ability to communicate in writing.

Going forward, this will be an increasingly important skill.

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