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Define Filters for Your Go-Forward Plan

When seismic shifts alter the landscape, it’s time to reconnoiter.

It’s been interesting to see how various enterprises have learned to pivot in order to remain viable during this prolonged pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. Physicians and their elderly patients have learned to connect on streaming video and many of us have had a COVID test administered while we wait in our cars. That was unthinkable a year ago. Bulrush, an exclusive restaurant in St. Louis that focuses on Ozark-themed food and personalized storytelling, started offering a Park & Dine option in which the chefs bring each course to patrons who dine in their own cars. In Detroit, the Michigan Opera Theatre produced a spectacular drive-through Wagner experience staged in the parking structure. Amazing.

People are so resourceful. And I hope this open-minded approach carries forward into post-pandemic planning.

Leaders are having to make some tough decisions right now, with the pandemic as impetus. But sooner than later, we will have to acknowledge that we have all arrived in a different place. The plans, decisions, and investments we made a year or two ago may no longer be relevant. We need to be clear about exactly what we want our team to focus on once we emerge from crisis management. That means everything needs to be revisited.

I’ve found that it helps to have a few quick, reliable filters to help me sort through the avalanche of decisions that need to be made about the initiatives and investments that were launched prior to the pandemic. My filters work like this: Will it help my customers right now? If not, is it critical to the recovery of our industry — will it expedite getting things back on a healthy track? And if neither of those can be answered “yes” – is it something I would spend real money on to make happen?

If the answer is to all three is “no,” it’s time to cut bait.

Speaking from experience, it can be hard to walk away from sunk costs. All our instincts tell us to protect the investment we’ve already made. And that’s when our egos kick in, and the word “failure” creeps into our imagination. Don’t be deceived. It’s only your fault if you don’t reconnoiter — if you don’t resurvey the lie of the land and build accordingly. Think about the gambler who is down thousands of dollars and is convinced that the lucky streak is just around the corner. Throwing away more good money will only add to your loss. Walk away.

I’ve shared my filters – the self-survey I take when I need to make the tough decision to change course. You need to figure out the filters that will help you. Coming out of the pandemic, the last thing your organization needs is to get stuck working on decisions, strategies and goals that were made in a different time — in truth, a different reality.

This is not a blip on the screen; it’s seismic change. We have to be willing to reconsider everything we’ve done in the past. Even when that past is only a year ago. Welcome to now.