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3 Essential Questions to Consider to Prepare for Reentry

By Erica Olsen

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3 Essential Questions to Consider to Prepare for Reentry

After eight weeks of quarantine and a transformed economic climate, businesses are slowly starting to reopen. As part of the reopening process, executive teams are being forced to rethink the organization. External dynamics and how teams responded to COVID created strategic shifts – no, seismic shifts – for the better and worse. There is no going back to “pre-COVID.” That world does not exist anymore.

To help your organization — and you — really adapt to the “new normal,” here are three critical questions to answer and share with your team.

Critical Question #1 – What is your organization’s real, true purpose?

Companies that are adapting well have a strong sense of purpose. They have a clear direction, common values and a culture that drives performance. When leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose, they know what the company stands for, beyond profit, and how they contribute in a meaningful way.

Why your purpose matters now more than ever.

Consistently connecting your team to your organization’s mission and values is no longer just about having a poster in the breakroom. It’s about ensuring that your mission matters, that everyone understands the mission and connects their work directly to real outcomes. As a practical example, make mission part of staff meetings by asking employees to share mission “sightings” from the previous week.

Critical Question #2 – What will be your team’s ways of working going forward?

Over the past 2 months we’ve seen small, nimble teams that were built in a hurry make important decisions faster, better and remotely. While this reorganization stemmed from forced work-from-home, the real change is how decision-making was distributed and not stuck in hierarchy.

Consider permanently adopting what’s worked well during these past few weeks.

Perhaps your teams found new ways of working that should be made permanent. Is your team getting work done faster and in a nimbler way? If so, dig into what really is working, besides working-from-home, and operationalize the change so you don’t fall back to the old way.

Honestly, it is head spinning to reflect on adaptations like IT moving entire teams home in a week, 100 percent migration to Zoom, and new product offerings under quarantine. How can we maximize these decision-making structures to be more successful in the future?

Critical Question #3 – What is your new recovery and growth strategy?

To say that technology revolutionized how we engage our customers and our customers’ customers is a major understatement. Many organizations went through a forced digital transformation and are delivering core services very, very differently. In fact, likely there is not a single organization that has been untouched by this transformation.

Adapting for the future.

So what does this mean for your business? How does that change your growth strategy long term? It might be too early to decide exactly which changes will be implemented for the long term, but it’s likely time to start thinking about it. A good place to start is ask your clients or customers for feedback on new products and services. Don’t be shy!

In our business, we facilitate leadership team and board retreats, mostly in person. Several years ago, we transitioned about half of our work to virtual delivery. Some clients will be expecting in-person sessions at some point, but others will happily adapt to our remote model because it suits their schedules, budgets or other considerations.

By clearly and thoughtfully answering these questions, you’ll help your team chart a course into the next phase. It’s cathartic to take time to reflect upon the lessons learned and create forward action. In doing so, leaders create space for teams to recognize the ways they’ve dug deep to maintain and propel forward momentum. Moreover, teams can engage in creative discussions realizing the potential embedded in the swift adaptations individuals, teams, corporations and industries made under the lockdown and extreme restrictions to “business as usual.” This will, most certainly, be the mindset to move us into the future because there is no looking back!


Erica Olsen

Erica Olsen is the COO and a co-founder of OnStrategy. She has developed the format and the user interface for the award-winning OnStrategy on-line strategic management system. In addition, she is the author of Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies, 2nd Edition. Erica has developed and reviewed hundreds of strategic plans for public and private entities across the country and around the world. She is a lecturer at University of Nevada Reno and University of Phoenix. She holds a BA in Communications and an MBA in International Management.

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