I was happy with the turnout in last Saturday’s webinar event entitled “Strategic Plan 2021: Setting The Stage For A Major Comeback!” More than 200 high profile and high net worth business owners  and their management teams spread across Asia dropped everything for 3.5 hours to be with us! It was a privileged sharing the virtual stage with co-resource speaker, Mr. Stephen Lin, one of Asia’s top strategic planners and thought leaders. He is not just an extraordinary talent but a dear mentor and friend. We have known each other for close to a decade. For those who missed the event, I can say it was rather regrettable. The important topics about strategic management and the key takeaways were so important and to pass up the opportunity under periods of extreme challenges was unfortunate. This crisis has given us many sleepless nights so the next time around, when you come across an opportunity to learn strategic thinking, please do attend, for your sake.   

Why did I express dismay over those who missed the event? Because we are currently in uncharted territory. Regardless of the size of our businesses,  we are all grappling with the growing uncertainty about what lies ahead and our businesses have been severely impacted. Companies that have been riding on a decade of almost uninterrupted growth are now in deep reflection and have started to discard existing strategies. The disruption affecting businesses and industries have resulted in more than a hundred thousand businesses permanently shattered, mostly coming from the SME sector. Suddenly without warning and without apparent provocation, many lives were lost, including people closed to us and our families and millions more adding to the unemployment statistic, all in one fell swoop. It felt like a sucker punch in multiples! In plain view are several thousands more that have slowed down and have lost their desire to hang on. As one colleague operating in the ASEAN region said, “they (business owners) have lost their grip big time, some are depressed, helpless and the lockdown caught many with their pants down. It’s a bloodbath and virtually many are about to throw in the towel.” 

For businesses that have been considerably weakened yet still hopeful, they must rapidly adapt their business models to this disruptive event and take all necessary measures to survive the downturn. As the economy slowly reopens, it is important that they address several imperatives. During the webinar event, we highlighted many strategic management elements to get owners and executives back on the saddle. Noteworthy was Stephen’s articulation of common mistakes in crafting a strategic plan. Some of the blunders were directed at the lack of focus in creating customer value, many organizations sloppy work related to crafting a differentiation strategy, their miscalculation in scanning the environment and their complete disregard on the process of strategy formulation.  

Therefore, I encourage business leaders to first step back, reflect and re-imagine powerful policy drivers that will pave the way for the businesses gradual recovery without draining much needed cash reserves. Foremost to these initiatives would be to sound off a glaring reminder to everyone, from shareholders, to the board of directors all the way down to the senior executives that organizational culture is critical. It is a key structural driver that must be on top of a leader’s “must do” list. As Peter Drucker, the father of Modern Management once said, ‘Culture eats strategy for Breakfast.’  And if I may hasten to add, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast and technology for lunch and transformation for dinner!

To be continued…