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The Critical Shift to the Strategic

By Trefor Munn-Venn

Master Coach

Rhapsody Strategies

The last 18 months introduced a whirlwind of changes that every organization has had to respond to. If you’re like me, you may be tired of thinking about, talking about, and adjusting to the pandemic. But as leaders, we have no choice but to continue to guide our organizations, our teams, and those we serve as we continue to adapt.

Together we have seen businesses demonstrate creativity, innovation, and flexibility to ensure they could continue operating. Countless people are working from home. Restaurants have adapted to embrace take-out and delivery service models. There’s been a boom in the creation of online stores and a shift to online delivery of everything from counseling, to training, to fitness instruction. And while many have struggled — and some have not made it — for the most part that flexibility and creativity have led to success.

Sort of.

What we witnessed was a tactical response to a dramatic change in circumstances. If these were circumstances that were likely to return to normal quickly, a tactical response would be sufficient. But I think we all recognize that some of these changes are here to stay.

There’s a heightened desire for health safety. Teleworking is here to stay even if it’s going to be a hybrid approach. The labour market has been turned upside down. Supply chains are continuing to sputter.

In a situation like this, a tactical response may keep the doors open but it’s only through a strategic response that organizations emerge stronger, more robust, and more resilient.

With many of our clients, we’ve been working to return to first principles by reexamining their Mission or Purpose. This is the time to get very clear on why exactly you got into your business. It’s a time to reconnect to what matters most and to use that as the foundation for what needs to happen next.

The next step is a challenging one — we need to step away from how the business has been functioning and reimagine how it might function in this new context. This requires that we loosen our grip on the past and look clearly and honestly at what is happening in front of us and ask, “What needs to change?” For some, these changes will be modest but for others, they may be dramatic. Business leaders need to step forward with courage and creativity to position their organizations for the future. Otherwise, while they might have survived the pandemic, they may not survive in the months and years ahead.

Finally, this is the time for commitment and action. There’s no doubt that the pandemic has worn out most leaders, and their work isn’t done. This is the time to be experimenting with new service delivery models, new systems and automation, new hiring and retention strategies, new revenue streams, and new distribution channels.

While others continue to wrestle with the tactical, there is a tremendous opportunity for those who shift to the strategic.