The fall of 2021 has been moving quickly relative to how slowly some of the past 18 months have seemed to crawl.
Several CEO's shared with us that 2021 has had some unique outcomes on what we are calling “the normal amount of corporate change."
In short, because the organizations that you are running have been forced to make changes tied to the pandemic, the normal amount of opt-in changes has dropped off considerably.
As one of them said to us: "if the roof is on fire, you don’t spend much time worrying about who is cleaning the pool."
We find this observation valuable to share because it is at this time of year that leaders are gathering to set the goals for 2022 and quite often the past is used as prologue.
This could be a recipe for disaster and we are suggesting a few ideas on how to not fall into that trap.
Step 1 – Look at the previous rate of change prior to the pandemic.
Two years ago, as you were outlining your growth strategies and allocating budgets for the coming year there was a normal rate of change in your forecast that we will call X. There could be several different categories that could help your team get to X which included customer growth, margin enhancement through cost cutting, and new customer acquisitions.
Step 2 – Look at how the Pandemic has augmented the rate of change in each category.
We have viewed the pandemic like a large landslide that has blown through a village, destroying some of the village, isolating the two halves that remain and noticing that one part of the village is benefiting and the other is suffering. We have been involved with companies in all three parts of that village and if you are still in business this is a good time to realize that 2022 just might be very similar to 2021 and to plan accordingly.
Going back to some of our earliest writings when the pandemic broke, the key actions and habits of persistence highlighted by Admiral James Stockdale could serve you well when working with your teams. If the impact of the pandemic is going to be felt for the next 7 years, then managing the expectations of your employees and shareholders matters as we head into year three.
When you do look at the categories that get you to your X we think you might notice that some of your customers might be out of business, some of your pricing power may have increased, and importantly the total addressable market of customers looking to make a voluntary change in the next calendar year may have dropped off a cliff.
This last point is really important, you will burn through your sales team if you ask them to win more games than are being played in a given year, and unlike professional sports the number of games played in a season changes in business. If the top 10 buyers of your service aren't going out to bid next year, you need to adjust your forecast.
Step 3 – Customize your 2022 plan to keep both your upstream and downstream publics aligned.
Inside of a vacuum shareholders want an infinite return for limited investment, customers want maximum value for the minimal cost, and employees seek stability and compensation for limited effort. In the marketplace all these self-interests smash together. The planning meetings you are in right now are unique and if you are being pressured by shareholders for breakout growth make sure your data supports it in these conditions.
Step 4 – Use the context of the pandemic to enable nailing team chemistry.
The pandemic is a huge catalyst which can be used as a galvanizing force to bring people together. The best leaders are working on team chemistry now which will be the foundation for their success beyond 2022. We are just digging into how the best leaders foster environments of great chemistry and will be sharing our findings in future publications.
A former player of Bill Walsh’s recently shared a quote from the famous coach. “You can have a winning team without chemistry, but championship teams always have it, and it's never the same twice.”
2020 & 2021 forced us all to change, and looking ahead it seems we might all be alchemists at the bench mixing the right atoms to create the winning chemical bonds for 2022.
Thank you for your friendship and readership,
Drew & Sara
p.s. Not sure if this person is a chemist....but haven't we have all felt this way at some point in recent months...
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