2023 is right around the corner. At the helm of digital business, we are looking at what we can plan out, if not already, into the new year to retain our best online customers but also compete and acquire new target markets. Basic stuff...nothing new there.
Our strategic mind says we should annualize our plans and strategies....kick things off with a focus...and I get it; we need to align our fiscal years to budgets to allocate the resources, talent, and technology required to make a solid plan.
However, where I find a gap in traditional focus on the "New Year, New Strategies" planning mindset at the onset of every new year (whether fiscal or calendar) is how it limits us in the digital strategic sense. Now, strategies generally need to be scalable, and that is understood. However, onset strategic annual plans are not finite. Why? We know things change rapidly online. Examples:
What about mid-year when your competitor offers a new functionality on their mobile app that steals your target audience's attention?
What about when your direct competitor finally figured out a way to do same-day shipping in Q2 ahead of peak selling season?
What about the go-to-market launch of a product for your digital channels crashing on you because you did not plan an effective campaign upfront in Q3?
You need to pivot, right? Right. But is our new year beginning strategic planning process and structure allowing us to do so effectively? Or do we have to wait for a complete annual planning cycle to get there?
I preach agility all the time...especially digital agility.
Let me reiterate; WE NEED SOLID STRATEGIC PLANS. We can't digitally transform or optimize long-term impact if we don't. However, there needs to be a secondary strategic planning approach with agility to pivot. Whether a quick change to the software, a process, or the overall scope of a strategy, we cannot afford to "wait and see" the results. Some of us get it; we are agile, measure real-time performance, and "adjust" as needed. This is not about "slight" adjustments, though. This is about getting comfortable with big swing shifts mid-season.
1) What is causing us not to pivot?
2) Do our decision makers understand the reason to pivot?
3) How can we build contingency resources earlier in the year for such potential or likely pivots?
4) Our the leaders of the organization embracing digital agility, period?
5) Is our approval processes streamlined enough to be digitally agile?
6) What is it that is causing our own distractions from focusing on direct needs of the online customer? What fog do we need to remove?
7) How can we truly leverage the data at a heightened need during a pivot?
The most uncomfortable question:
Do we exactly know why we need to pivot in the first place?
That last question is a hard one. Sometimes it's for unforeseen, unitentional dynamics. However, many times it's because we may have failed at something. Failed to consider the dynamics in digital that lay ahead. Failed to take our egos and opinions out of the way and make decisions based on data. Or we truly, truly did not have that shiny value proposition we originally thought. So now is the time to pivot. Let the ego go, say it's OK to pivot, and get our team and strategy back on track!
Sports Analogy: Whatever we practiced in the pre-season, we needed to figure out a game plan that allowed us to compete..... Will a sports team keep losing halfway through the annual season? No, they go back to the game plan...figure out new plays, and, if needed, make strategic shifts in their players and approach. Which, even for digital business, could mean technological innovation. If there is a shot at making it to the Big Game before the year is over, then that's....what....we.....should do.....
So, I leave with this comment in mind:
Build an effective digital strategy for the new year, but embrace digital agility throughout
if there is still a chance to play and even win the big game, then we should go for it!