Strategic Planning Trends in a Post-Pandemic World

How can you ensure your strategic planning process is successful in a post-pandemic world that is still very much evolving? 

You evolve your process, too. Here’s how. 

What’s Driving Strategic Planning Trends? 

We saw the unexpected arrival of a global pandemic, a dramatic increase in remote working, and a louder call for equity and inclusion in the workplace. Our global economy continued to experience turbulence. As a result, the majority of strategic plans had to be tossed out and rewritten.

In the same way that schools, restaurants, and medical offices have had to evolve their systems to serve their customers, your organization must transform its strategic planning process. It’s necessary to adapt effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace — for talent as well as for goods and services. 

The traditional methods of strategic planning with long time horizons for forecasting markets and revenues are no longer sufficient. To ensure the success of your organization moving forward, you need to evolve your process. 

The following emerging strategic planning trends will provide a framework from which you can construct a more flexible, relevant, and promising plan — and ask the right questions.



What the Global Pandemic Taught Us

Who had “global pandemic” in their 2020 strategic plan? Almost no one. And yet, the pandemic arrived and shifted the way we work almost immediately. It forced a reckoning with how we imagine work and organizational success in a way that we did not include at all in our long-term planning.

“…all strategic plans are really just strategic guesses about what the future may hold.”

From this experience, we have learned that all strategic plans are really just strategic guesses about what the future may hold. Long time horizons of ten years or more work well for aspirational visions and major infrastructure projects, but not so well for succeeding in a fast-moving world. It’s a world where where plans and goals must shift in response.

Rather than writing detailed long-term plans, here’s the definition of strategic planning done well, in a post-pandemic world. It establishes annual strategic bets or imperatives that identify where we will spend our resources right now, given what we know today. And that plan must be evaluated when major shifts occur. Shifts like a brand new competitive entry, a big regulatory change . . . or a major global pandemic.

The Future of Remote Working

Most employers today are wrestling with the impact of remote work — on their own workforce and on their customers. All at once, the unthinkable happened, and many people suddenly transitioned to remote work as the pandemic shut down offices and schools.

What had been a luxury for a few privileged employees, became the reality for many.  Managers resistant to having employees they couldn’t see at their desks had to figure out Zoom, Teams, and an assortment of other technologies to hold meetings, deliver feedback, and form teams.  Also, we discovered that remote work could be even more productive for some people, and now those people are not excited to go back to an office.

“What was once a given is now a question for most organizations – does everyone need to come to the office every day?”

While managers struggled to learn better management practices, their organizations imagined lower fixed costs with less office space to maintain. What was once a given is now a question for most organizations – does everyone need to come to the office every day?

As you think about maintaining a culture and attracting talent, and even cost-saving, your strategic plans need to take a careful look at the role of remote work in your success going forward.

Corporate Responsibility to Equity and Inclusion

The call for greater equity and inclusion in the workplace is not new, but has grown louder in the past two years. Understanding the role that racial and gender equity have in the workplace and how it impacts future success is important if you wish to continue growing your organization.

Data from a 2018 McKinsey study showed that organizations with greater ethnic and gender diversity performed 43 percent better, and those with greater gender diversity performed 21 percent better. When hiring and recruiting, Glassdoor found that 76 percent of jobseekers stated that a diverse workforce was important when considering organizations and job offers. 

“…building a workplace culture that includes equity and inclusion is not only a matter of morals and ethics. It is also one of organizational growth and increased revenue.”

These numbers show that building a workplace culture that includes equity and inclusion is not only a matter of morals and ethics. It is also one of organizational growth and increased revenue. Success does not stop at diversity, however. Fostering an inclusive workplace environment is how you retain and empower diverse talent to share their unique perspectives and ideas. As a result, more innovative products, services, and solutions are created.

Attracting and Retaining Diverse Talent

How will your organization address attracting, retaining and valuing diverse talent at all levels in your management structure and decision-making? A great strategic plan will address this, and not merely as a PR exercise for public attention and a better brand image. You will also identify new market opportunities and innovative ideas by listening to these new voices around your table. As the call for greater equity and inclusion grows louder, your organization has an opportunity to answer. 

Understanding post-pandemic strategic planning trends and building a strong strategic plan is only part of the process of creating healthy and sustainable growth for your organization. It takes leaders and a cohesive workforce to put it into action. Building a culture that supports your strategy starts with building a strong cadre of leaders at all levels. Leaders who can adapt to change and support your employees to grow and learn.

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