Strategy Sprints: The Antidote to Pandemic Planning Struggles

Strategy Sprints
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Stephanie Gioia
Stephanie Gioia

You’ve been immersed in short term decisions: employee safety, redesigning services, rebudgeting, layoffs, responding to customers. On top of that, you’re trying to get a handle on how your long-term strategy needs to change and whether to pursue fundamental changes to your business model.

You used to be able to get in a room and figure things out, but now these momentous decisions are being made over tenuous internet connections from makeshift home offices.

How are organizations recreating the alignment they used to feel in a way that is efficient and virtual?

Strategy Sprints. We are seeing many organizations host dedicated time (usually a series of half-day facilitated experiences) to think through the big picture strategic implications of their situation. Virtual sprints are gaining traction, both as a practical decision-making format and as a way of boosting morale and human connection amidst instability and fear.

To provide some inspiration, here are a few types of Strategy Sprints we have facilitated:

Strategy Evaluation Sprint

The world has changed — does your strategy speak to a new horizon?

  • Align stakeholders on how external factors have impacted your business
  • Gather input: what about the existing strategy still feels solid? What needs to be revisited?
  • Walk away with a heatmap of your current strategy and plan to tackle emerging strategic decisions

Business Model Innovation Sprint

In a time of unprecedented creative destruction, how might you emerge stronger and more relevant?

  • Assess which parts of your business model are being disrupted and where the greatest opportunity for innovation lies
  • Gather innovation ideas from your most creative stakeholders
  • Walk away with a visual business model canvas, highlighting your team’s ideas for innovation potential

Scenario Planning Sprint

A practical tool for leading teams through deep uncertainty

  • Align on the areas of your business with the highest variability based on factors outside your control
  • Futurecast 3–5 possible scenarios, how they might impact your business, how you would respond, and how you might build resilience today for each scenario
  • Walk away with detailed future scenarios upon which internal business planning can be built

Centering Equity in Strategic Planning Sprint

How do the ways we make strategic decisions support or undermine our commitment to equity?

  • Learn about the different approaches organizations can use to center equity in their strategy and understand what approach is best for your organization
  • Review the practical processes that support your chosen approach and assess which of these you are currently doing
  • Guided reflection: How might your strategic planning approach change in the future?

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