February 17, 2022 Planning success
Can we put a robust plan together for 2022 in the face of ongoing covid uncertainties? It’s a perfectly reasonable question, and one which no doubt is taxing many boardrooms at the current time. However, as the saying goes, failing to plan is akin to planning to fail. Yes there are uncertainties, but surely identifying and planning to mitigate risk is one of the key responsibilities of leadership.
This time round boards have one thing in their favour; they have already experienced covid lockdowns. Admittedly with an ever evolving threat there is no certainty that the approach followed last time will always be the best one to adopt. But experience in home working, in adapting to different trading models and changing customer expectations, will stand businesses in good stead this time.
Perhaps now more than ever the key to success is in planning flexibility; in weaving a thread of possibilities around a core business as usual model. Success in delivering such a flexible model will, however, require the engagement of the entire organisation, led by a united board. And that’s where strong communication comes into effect, helping the board to take the business on a planning journey so that everyone knows and understands the part they have to play in delivering success.
Here we should inject a note of caution. That united board should not be one which is dominated by groupthink. Now more than ever is the time for boards to look outwards, to draw on external expertise in a bid to ensure that all factors have been considered. Now also is the time for boards to look inwards at themselves, to ensure that they bring a diverse range of backgrounds and experience to the table.
It is this very diversity of input which will help boards not only to envision current and future risks but also to plan to overcome them. It’s a point which was made in the recent FRC review of corporate reporting which commented that in situations where there was no plan to change a long standing chair it was often unclear what mitigating actions were in place to support both effective challenge and diversity of thought. The review also highlighted the trend for diversity policies to be primarily targeted at gender diversity, rather than looking at a broader range which encompasses areas such as ethnicity, background, training and outlook.
So as we look towards 2022, let’s plan for a successful year based on flexibility and diversity; one in which risk is fully understood and people fully engaged in delivering great outcomes.