Accelerated Planning For The Post-Pandemic World

Author: Neil Burrows, Founder and Managing Director at SaturnFive®

With lockdowns and restrictions biting, the challenges for business have shown no easing as we enter 2021. Once again many organisations are facing uncertain, unpredictable and stop-start conditions – in some cases all three – leading to understandable caution and deferment of planned activities.

However, this is not 2020. Unlike the uncertainty of last year, 2021 has some light on the horizon. With vaccines starting to roll-out there is the prospect of recovery.  At some point the world will reopen again and we will see business restart, albeit in an environment that nobody can truly predict.

Many organisations have been scrabbling to address their immediate issues to keep the wheels rolling and many leaders report the difficulty in finding the headspace to plan ahead. And yet, with restrictions likely to ease as the year progresses and the landscape changed, planning now becomes a priority – an imperative to ensure the business is fit for the future. As pointed out in the recent McKinsey article, “companies have zero time to lose…. in a winner takes all business environment.”¹

Now is the time to raise the periscope and get some people on the bridge while the rest of the team keep stoking the engines. Organisations quickly need to get a clear view on where they are going, what that place may look like, what they will need to succeed and, crucially, how to get there.

There are no generic answers to these questions – every organisation is different, weathering the storm and navigating its path in its own, unique vessel. While the storm will recede and pass, organisations must be ready. Focus, speed and agility are critical requirements – regardless of size – with leadership teams equipped and ready for decisive action.

Many organisations are reporting fatigue, burn-out and lack of motivation as the continuing pressures of uncertainty, remote working and lack of connection to the workplace, colleagues, clients and customers take their toll. It’s a subject consistently raised in the SaturnFive Brains Trusts² by business leaders from a variety of business sectors. This is not sustainable.

It’s time to turn a page and start looking ahead – to imagine what the future may look like, being able to clearly articulate the purpose of the business, redesigning the way teams work and how to go-to-market. This is a valuable exercise that helps galvanise the organisation, motivate the team and focus action by building a high-level, well communicated roadmap. 

With so much conflicting evidence and an abundance of ‘advice’ the picture can be confusing.  Taking the time and creating the space to plan ahead is both vital for the organisation and the well-being of the team and employees. At SaturnFive, we developed the ACCELERATOR programme to specifically address these issues and support leaders by creating a vehicle for fast, responsive planning.³  

While the environment remains challenging it is tempting for businesses to put anything but the essentials on hold; either to exercise caution, manage the optics or simply to survive. However, markets will open again, customers will return and business needs to be future fit and ready to reboot. The only thing that is certain is that change is happening and most of it is irreversible.

The winners will be those organisations who rapidly embrace the changes brought about by the pandemic and leverage the opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution to create a valuable 21stcentury brand for sustainable growth. 

SaturnFive Consulting has offices in Oxford, Birmingham, London, Vancouver and Cape Town.  If you would like to know more about SaturnFive’s services and ACCELERATOR™ then call us on +44 (0) 1865-950799


¹Organizing for the future: Nine keys to Becoming a Future-Ready Company, McKinsey January 11, 2021 | Article

²   The SaturnFive Brains Trust was formed in 2020 as a forum and peer-to-peer support group bringing together leaders and senior executives from a variety of business sectors and job functions Groups run in the UK, Canada and South Africa on a monthly basis facilitated by the SaturnFive senior team.

³   ACCELERATOR™ is a fast-track planning process applying the SaturnFive “Strategy into Action” philosophy to audits, co-creation sessions and collaborative workstreams to quickly unlock innovative strategies and initiate action.

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