When you combine a communicator’s instinct to deliberately plan for communications, with the rapidly changing environment we find ourselves in these days, the two can be hard to reconcile.
Here are 4 things I try to remember when planning in a world that keeps changing:
- Plan to re-plan. Think about progress, not perfection or evolution over completion. Our fixation with the finish line and what we consider “success”, can sometimes get in the way of our ability to break things down into more manageable, flexible pieces that focus on the “next best thing” to do, and the next best thing after that.
- Shorten the window of time. Let’s face it – no one’s in the mood for a 3-year corporate communications plan these days. Fair enough. That said, being intentional and focused is more important than ever. Think in terms of realistic, short-term windows of time for planning – that could include a 30-day sprint, a 30-60-90 day action plan or setting quarterly objectives.
- Think light-weight and visual. When your mapping out that “next best thing” or looking for input from your team, break out the flip chart, unleash the sticky notes or fire up the white board. There are lots of digital tools to facilitate agile planning, such as mural.co or kanbanize.com. Collaborating in a creative, interactive and tangible manner can often help quickly visualize your process and map out your approach.
- “Agile” and “strategic planning” are not mutually exclusive. Planning and its core functions of understanding the environment, uncovering insights and setting direction, remain vital and highly relevant in an agile context. Defining clear objectives and corresponding performance indicators, even if they’re only based on what you know now, will set you up with a solid foundation and make it easier to adapt and pivot to what may come later.