How to help your team refocus on growth after the Covid hassle


While most of the risks and burdens of Covid-19 are still with us, now is the time to plan for growth rather than just keep hanging on. If we wait until all signs of the pandemic are gone before we plan for a more solid future, we risk missing the optimal time to act.

The need to take a rigorous look to the future becomes especially evident as I work with organizations that have curled up as best they can during Covid, trying to rotate their offerings, doing the crazy work of getting PPP loans and reassuring staff that there was still a place for them. Planning is vital, even for businesses that have pivoted so well that they are overwhelmed by unanticipated growth and rely on workarounds and overtime rather than robust infrastructure and processes.

You can build for growth

It is really difficult to sustain a big change in the trajectory of an organization if the leaders isolate themselves or rely on the intelligence of a few people. Better keep the energy and commitment of the entire team to propel you forward through their belief in the goals and mission of the company and their dedication to their teammates. Here is a multi-step process that I have used with clients to make sure everyone is headed in the right direction.

Step 1: Generate Ideas

Whether working in person or remotely, clearly set the context and ground rules to avoid the typical problems associated with brainstorming sessions: the ideas of the most assertive people get the most attention, the group gloating over an idea. and ignoring others, introverts not having heard their ideas, or even any of the ideas used.

Specify the general direction in which you want the discussion to go. You may be planning to grow your business, enter new markets, enter a particular market niche for an additional 20%, or become # 2 in the field when you landed at # 9. Prime the pump . by providing advanced materials to the group: from analyzes of market conditions to relevant scientific journals of new developments in the field.

At the start of the meeting, explain that for this first step, the emphasis is on the ideation and aggregation of as many new ideas as possible – not on the critique or analysis of the ideas. Consider using unfamiliar language to emphasize: “We are now at the proliferation of ideas stage, not at the scrutiny stage. We will not consider risk assessments or conflicts; we’re just going to generate as many ideas as possible. ”

To avoid the typical brainstorming session of braver or more outgoing people calling out multiple ideas and everyone shrinking in their seats, allow participants 15 to 30 minutes of silence to write down as many ideas as possible. Mute everyone who is on the video and let attendees turn off their cameras if they prefer. Collect ideas, then end the meeting or take a meaningful break.

Step 2: Group the Ideas

When you meet again, all the ideas should be available for everyone to consider. If you are meeting in person, you could write the ideas down on easels or whiteboards placed around the room. For a remote or hybrid team, you can collect their ideas in chat or email, then provide a shared document or a compilation of all of them. The support doesn’t matter much, but make sure everyone can see both the ideas they have contributed and those of others.

Use your new language and announce, “We’re not at the review stage yet. We’re now going to organize or sort the ideas.” To share the ideas with the whole group at the same time in a neutral way, you or a facilitator can read the ideas aloud without naming the source, or you can go around the group and have everyone read two or more. three ideas. Have team members identify any connections or similarities between the ideas, so that you can code, physically move, or put the ideas together to show multiple aspects or facets of each.

Step 3: Add what is missing

Now, start looking at each group of ideas, adding critical factors to make each idea strong enough for careful consideration. Is the desired outcome specified in both quantitative and qualitative terms? What is the proposed schedule? What resources will be needed? Position this discussion as the best-case scenario planning: “We’re going to make each of these ideas as appealing or robust as possible to help us gain value, even from ideas that we ultimately decide not to pursue. They can highlight something we haven’t paid attention to or provide prompts for new experiences. ”

Step 4: Note the risks

Ask participants to carefully examine each idea, identifying the drawbacks, challenges, and real issues of pursuing a particular course of action. Because participants have already invested in building all of the ideas, they are less likely to turn negative or choose ideas that they don’t like. If it is obvious that some ideas are not strong or relevant enough, you can change them.

Step 5: Set Priorities and Assign Implementation Teams

Depending on the composition of the group and your organizational structure and culture, you may need to report approved ideas to the leadership team to determine the sequence, funding and other resources, including staffing. staff and external expertise. Then, reconvene the participants who generated the original ideas to announce those that will go forward and work on them as well as the ideas that will be addressed at a later date; you should also be prepared to explain why some ideas may have been rejected.

Do not skip this final step, otherwise the value of the participants’ work will be diminished, and they are unlikely to want to re-engage in this type of planning initiative. When you express your appreciation for their contribution and dedication to the process and share your implementation plans, you are more likely to be aligned as you go along with the actual work of building for growth.

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