Disruption Planning Now to Get Up to Speed Later
When Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed that the way forward was to “Move fast and break things,” he was certainly unaware of the coming pandemic, which has indisputably moved faster and broken more things than he ever dreamed possible.
One of them is the framework under which we are accustomed to carefully plan our future marketing and career activities. That planning is usually based, at least partially, on our historic experience. However useful in the past, this may not inform dealing with today and tomorrow’s disrupted world.
As many of us sit at home with our kids otherwise occupied and our pets sleeping under our desks, we have a unique opportunity – one we seldom enjoy, even during vacations – to do some out-of-the-box disruption planning about our business, and perhaps, even our personal goals. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.
Now is a good time to step back from the usual deadlines and other pressures to "do something" and think about the nature of that "something." If our current sequestered state makes it impossible for some of us to move as fast as we might like right now, we might productively use this down-time to think of the things we might profitably "break" so we can get up to speed when the new normality takes over.
That said, the new normality is unlikely to look like its predecessor.
Newsmax reported that in an interview on CBS News "Face The Nation," American Chamber of Commerce head Suzanne Clark said a recent poll carried out by the chamber showed “something like 50% of small businesses say that they were eight weeks away from closing forever.” Even with expected additional federal government help, that percentage is unlikely to be materially reduced as eight weeks is a very short time.
This is only a single instance of how “closing forever” would disrupt not only the small businesses themselves but the entire marketplace previously served by these enterprises. It is certainly not the only one. Just look at the current media turmoil. If you are dependent on marketing to sports’ fans during sporting events for example, what can you do to replace that business while these events are on hold?
What do we need to break so we can position ourselves for the new reality, and plan for a future we can only speculate about?
The first thing is our unending willingness to cling to the comfortable assumptions that got us our last promotion, bonus, or great sale. If our pool of marketers, supply chains, and distribution channels has been disrupted, how quickly can they be replaced, if ever? And should they be? If our jobs are in danger or worse – have been lost – how should we look to replace them?
I would posit that the place each of us should start breaking things might be to take a blank sheet of paper and unreservedly question old assumptions in the form of some very necessary disruption planning:
- Is what I was doing before the pandemic something economically and operationally viable in a changed environment?
- Was I happy and fulfilled doing it?
- Was the structure and organization in which I worked optimum and if not, how would I change it for the unknown environment?
- What are likely to be the opportunities in the "new normal"?
- If I could do anything I wanted, what would it be?
There’s a planning challenge to keep you from going stir crazy.
Peter J. Rosenwald is an expat American living and working in Brazil; founder and first CEO of Wunderman Worldwide, International Division of Wunderman agency) and first chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Direct Worldwide; strategist and senior executive in charge of building subscription and data-driven marketing for Editora Abril, Latin America's leading magazine publisher; founder of Consult Partners, active strategic marketing consultancy working in Brazil, U.S. and U.K. International keynote speaker on data-driven marketing and author of "Accountable Marketing" (Thomson), "Profiting From the Magic of Marketing Metrics" (Direct Marketing IQ), and "GringoView" blog author for Brazilian Huffington Post. With an international perspective, my blog's purpose is to share my maverick views of this business I've spent the last half-century working in, enjoying and observing.