Do a search for “planning quotes” and you’ll get pages of hits. One of the best is from Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Few of us had the prescience to plan for the current pandemic crisis. From stores to schools to software providers, we were all caught off-guard by the speed and scale of the shutdown we’re struggling with today.
As always, consumers led the way, first by stocking up – then hoarding – staple goods. Supply chains were caught in the middle and are still struggling to recover. Business response was slow across the board, from marketing to HR to IT.
Suddenly #WFH was trending, and we were inundated with videos of dogs and kids invading conference calls, along with pics of pajama bottoms with button-down blouses. Online shopping became a thing overnight, even with those who had never tried it, thereby showing the cracks in the system.
Every major retailer, even Amazon, has slowed down its delivery response. Prime orders take four days if you’re lucky. Online groceries can take two weeks. Some have learned to hack Instacart by sending one order and opening another cart immediately to save the delivery date.
The country – the world – is in crisis mode. We don’t know for how long. We do know that right now it’s all we can do to keep the wheels turning at all, never mind if we’re going in the right direction.
We also know this madness will end. Maybe sooner, maybe later. But it will end, and life will resume, although it will be very different in ways we can’t yet begin to process.
Another appropriate quote is from President Eisenhower, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Now is the time to plan for the post-crisis change. Will the plans be valid? Maybe not. But the process of planning will be. Thinking and strategizing now about what is working, what needs to be fixed, and what you need to recover – those things are all worth doing now.
Businesses got a pass when the crisis hit. No one was prepared, including the consumer. But consumers will be ready to get back to normal as soon as possible and will expect that your business is thinking the same way. The fact that we don’t yet know what normal will be doesn’t matter; you have to show that you want it, too.
Start planning for the light in the tunnel now. Otherwise, to paraphrase The Boss, you’ll be blinded by it.