We’ve all been learning fast this year as we’ve had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and growing uncertainty. As we approach the end of 2020, we’ll need to bring those learnings into sharp focus as we either renew or adapt our business plans to take account of the changes we’ve collectively experienced this year.
Take supply chain management. Many of our business owners have started to experience disruption in this area so our planning for 2021 needs to address the risks and issues around our supply chain, what that might mean for the business and what we need to adapt in our planning process in order to meet the challenge.
If this feels too hard, or trying to look ahead seems overwhelming, don’t be deterred.
Take a breath, follow the process step by step, asking the following questions:
Where do I want my business to be by the end of next year? Think about things like;
What do I need to get right to make this happen? In other words, what are my top three Critical Success Factors?
A sudden slip into Alert Level Three, the blast of the emergency ‘COVID’ warning through our phones and once again we’re into the balancing act of keeping our businesses moving in exceptional circumstances.
Last month our Pulse Check results told us how adaptable and flexible New Zealand’s small business are, with business owners altering operations and changing practice in order to survive the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us all. Just as we have rolled out our August Pulse Check – which you can access here if you would like to participate – the beat has changed again and, in Auckland, we are facing at least three days at Level 3, probably more, with the rest of New Zealand parked up at Level 2 for the time being.
We asked our Auckland team for their thoughts on the current situation and their advice was simple — we’ve been here before, rely on past experience and know that it will pass.
The Alternative Board’s managing director Stephen James said: “Knowing it will pass, spend some time addressing a few scenarios. For example, if Level 3 lasts, as announced, for three days what do you need to do? Or, if it remains in place for two weeks or if Level 4 is declared and we have full lockdown for an indefinite period — what then? Develop plans of action for each scenario and communicate these to your staff and stakeholders.”
A big frustration for many people is having too many things on their lists or, alternatively, not thinking they have enough options when faced with a problem.
Think about “Minimum Three, Maximum Seven, Optimum Five”.
This is a great rule to keep things simple, make better decisions and assist with planning for business or personal issues. The key is to force your thinking to come up with at least three or more items on any list you prepare (minimum three), and to limit the list to no more than seven (maximum seven). The optimum number is five. This rule can be used in many facets of our everyday lives, and helps to clarify thinking, and make decision making easier. Start looking around
and I am sure you will see it in practice, and many places where it can be applied.
If you have an issue that needs to get sorted and you can only think of one or two solutions, keep thinking until you have at least three. If you are brainstorming and have created a list of ideas or options that is very long, go through and prioritise the list. Often, as you are prioritising, you will see that some of the options are really just hybrids of each other. Reword and shrink your list down to maximum seven. Some items may become part of others within your list. The end result of this is a very manageable and focused list of three-seven items. Five is the most manageable number, and often gives the best results in terms of being most effective with resources available.
Extensions of this rule are everywhere.
• How many staff do you manage (effectively)?
• How many projects are you running (successfully) at one time?
• How many (quality) meetings did you have today?
• How many (important) customers/clients do you have that you manage very well?
• How many (profi table) products / services / divisions does your company have?
Look for the three-seven rule in your business. It may help you solve issues in a way that you just haven’t used before.