Challenging the Status Quo: Updated for 2021 (Living in the COVID Years)
The status quo is best described as a mindset that says, “Something must work because it’s still around; and because it’s still around, it must be working.” But in today’s business environment, nothing could be further from the truth.
Everyone knows the status quo isn’t going to cut it if you’re going to survive and thrive—especially in 2021 (after living through the global pandemic). But what, specifically, should a struggling company do to see beyond where they’ve been and emerge into a stronger place?
Step 1 – Conduct some external and internal analysis.
When doing external analysis, ask yourself: How has the market shifted? How have the needs of your customers changed? How have your competitors evolved to meet current customer needs?
When doing internal analysis, do a quick evaluation on: Where are your associates right now (both physically and emotionally)? Are they still working from home? Are they anxious to come back to work? Do they want to stay remote? Do you have the right people in the right places? Who’s thriving? Who needs to stay remote? Do you have the right management team in place? Are you ready for the potential of associate turnover (if some segment of your workforce chooses not to come back)?
Step 2 – Generate a SWOT analysis.
With the information you collected during your external/internal analysis, capture a snapshot of your company’s situation – generate a quick SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. This will help you visualize your most immediate needs and opportunities. Remember, a lot has changed—including your company, which has likely made substantial shifts to meet customer and market changes. What are your core competencies today—are they still the same? And how do you use them to provide value to your customers?
Step 3 – Create next quarter’s strategic plan.
Use your SWOT analysis, your core competencies, and your value proposition to guide your strategic plan for the next quarter. Don’t make the mistake many people do: They perform a SWOT analysis and stop there. Why waste this great knowledge? The information gained from your SWOT analysis should lead directly into strategic planning. Use those SWOT quadrants to create the four key initiatives you’ll undertake over the next two to three months.
Step 4 – Measure your plan.
A strategic plan is based on the information we have today and what we think will work in the future. But how can you know whether your plan is working (or not) as soon as possible? Come up with a few measurements that are leading indicators. A lead indicator refers to an activity that you can perform beforehand to ensure you hit your goal. By contrast, a lag indicator is measured after the fact, such as looking at profitability or sales at the end of the quarter.
For example: Say your strategic plan is to increase new customer business by 30%. By the time those new customers actually start generating revenue, the quarter could be in the rearview mirror—when it’s too late to take corrective action. However, if based on your experience and historical data, you can determine that 30 new client-generating activities a week will get you one new client a week, which will result in a certain amount of business in the next three months, you can start tracking those short-term activities to confirm you’re on track to your goal.
Step 5 – Begin an ongoing review cycle.
Make a regular habit to review your strategic plan, check your progress, review your KPIs and determine what’s working versus what’s not. In terms of review timing, consider monthly check-ins instead of quarterly reviews. Nobody wants to wait a full three months to realize something isn’t working.
How Can You Move Beyond the Status Quo?
It’s okay to admit that sometimes your in-house talent and skill set aren’t enough for what you need to get done. Or your in-house team, while capable, doesn’t have the time or bandwidth to take on additional projects. These are great reasons to consider bringing in an outside expert who can help you tackle important tasks that shouldn’t be ignored.
You’ve got the power to create a NEW status quo—one that’s agile enough to keep your business changing with the times.