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‘Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail’

OK, now I know most of us want to see the back of 2020 sooner rather than later. But I am not so sure we should be wishing our time away at the moment.

We still have 8 weeks until the end of this year, and I can’t help feeling that we need to be using that time wisely.

Firstly, by putting the maximum effort into the current year, taking every opportunity to make a difference to our business. Make the contacts, secure the orders, develop our product ranges, achieve your objectives. Do!

Secondly, we need to prepare ourselves for what 2021 might bring.

This blog about planning your goals for the coming year is published about a month earlier than I would normally.

Why? I hear you cry.


In a time, full of uncertainty, when everything around us is changing by the day and we have less control over things that we would normally, having a good plan of action with various ‘what ifs’ mapped out helps keep you focused on your vision, goals and objectives and brings some level of comfort, support, stability. Whilst we can’t foresee every eventuality or predict the future we can decide how we want to react to the changes that come our way.

Don’t put our head in the sand, or think you’ll be more refreshed in January after the Christmas break. Start planning/preparing now. Give yourself the chance to thoroughly think through the various issues facing your business. Have the space to discuss and debate your ambitions for 2021 with other stakeholders.

To help get you started here is my top 10 list of how to plan in uncertain times.

  1. Do the basics well. Standard planning tips and hints apply. Follow your usual planning process. Don’t panic into thinking you need a wholesale review from top to bottom.

    1. Market Review | PESTLE| Customers | Competition | Product

  2. Start from the company vision, mission, and values. Refocus on them, remind yourself of your core aims. Be clear on your priorities and focus.

  3. Start the process earlier. Don’t just wait for December/January to roll around. In fact, you might want to increase the frequency of planning and goal setting. Make it a more dynamic once quarter activity. (You know things really are changing that fast.)

  4. Stay close to your market, your customers, your stakeholders. You need to keep well informed and up to date. This should be a constant activity of your senior team.

  5. Focus on what you know. Don’t let what you don’t know distract your thinking or paralyze your actions. Make a list of questions or information to find out and task someone to go fetch.

  6. Scenario plan. Model it multiple ways. Don’t just be binary or 2 dimensional. Start with The good, the bad, & the ugly. Develop your thinking of ‘if this happens do that’, if ‘Y happen install X’. etc What are your trade-off? What are the difficult decisions that need to be made and how will you make them.

  7. Keep the documents short. It’s not important what they look like, it is more important that you have done the thinking and have action plans for the various eventualities. The plan should be a working document, not something to put in a drawer and never look at again.

  8. Keep focus on the end goals and the outputs. Don’t worry too much on the ‘how’ to do them at this stage. Just focus on achieving the goal. Keep the ‘how’ flexible.

  9. Work on clarity for your team’s resilience. Be Flexible, Be nimble, Be creative in your problem solving and people management. Keep your teams involved and improve engagement and empowerment.

  10. Alert system. Develop a measure or metric dashboard that follows the important KPIs for your business. (Relevant to your success factors.) Watch them closely and decide what triggers action.


Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about making the decisions you might have to make in the future. If you work through a number of ‘what ifs’ now you’ll be calmer when the unpredictable happens. You’ll have clarity in your decision making because you are focused on the core vision, mission, and objectives of the business.

To paraphrase Susan Jeffers in Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.

“There is never a wrong decision…whatever happens…you can handle it.”

runners legs on starting block with a relay


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