May was a whirlwind of activity.
With restrictions lifting and a return to a more familiar way of life, suddenly it’s time to start planning again.
As our team happily shifted from postponement to “save the date” mode, we realized this transition period is also the perfect time to reflect upon what we’ve been doing, why we’ve been doing it and how we can make improvements.
After a few planning sessions for various programs, events and initiatives, we noticed the same questions organically evolved each time. We’re doing our best to make the most of this time and ask ourselves those tough questions. Now is the perfect time to reflect, reassess, and, in some cases, reinvent. Here are a few questions we’ve been asking lately. Perhaps they will be useful to your team as you plan for the future, too:
• Is this still relevant? This is perhaps the most difficult question on our list. Life is different now. Living through a global pandemic has caused many people to change their priorities and goals. Consider how this shift impacts your business model or your programming. If your customers and your target audience have changed, in order to best serve them, you may need to change with them. Be honest with yourself and your team and if the answer to this relevancy question is “no,” don’t worry. That just means it’s time to embrace new opportunities. This chapter may be closing, but a new, more meaningful one is beginning.
• Is the name outdated? Language is always evolving, and in times of great social and cultural progress, we discover new standards for the way we communicate. The name of your program, event or initiative should reflect the current climate, and resonate with your clientele and community. Sometimes all an update requires is the addition, or subtraction, of one or two words. It’s worth examining because if the name of your program is misunderstood, or worse yet, considered offensive by today’s standards, there’s little hope for success. Choose carefully and brand it properly from the start.
• Are we communicating effectively? One big takeaway from life during COVID shutdowns: communication is key. In this period of assessment, it’s a great time to review how you communicate with your customers, and how often you reach out to them. Google forms and online platforms such as Survey Monkey make it easy to gather valuable data quickly — for you and your customers. If you haven’t surveyed key groups in a while, why not reach out to them now? You may be surprised by the results.
• Is our technology up to date? E-commerce, fundraising, marketing and event planning all require the use of technology, so it’s critical that yours is current. Donors and customers will appreciate the assurance that your site processes secure transactions, and your marketing and recruiting efforts will be much more effective and efficient with new technology in place. This also factors into discussions about events requiring tickets as most people prefer to reserve their seats online.
• Which temporary measures should become permanent? Last year taught us all how to pivot, often quickly. As we implemented alternative plans, services and work habits during quarantines and shutdowns, we discovered new ways of operating, some of which were actually good for the bottom line. This prompts us to ask: Just because we can soon return to former business models, does that mean we should? Now is the perfect time to assess which temporary measures worked well, and which did not, and consider permanent modifications to the way we conduct business.
• Is it time for more professional development? Crisis has a way of bringing things to light that we may have put on the back burner. If you’ve discovered that your team could benefit from a few refresher or introductory courses, why wait? Set yourselves up for success and start creating a professional development plan.
• Have we said thank you? We made it this far, but none of us got here alone. We had support from business leaders and co-workers, family and friends, community leaders and partners. Be sure to take the time to thank those who stepped out of their comfort zone and into the throes of an uncertain business world to help you during the pandemic. It’s one of the most important items on this list and it’s also one of the easiest.
Transition is difficult; there’s no doubt about it. While it may pose challenges, it also brings with it opportunity. Embrace it. The time is now.