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The Journal

2020 Didn’t Go as Planned, but 2021 Is Coming Anyway

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4 minute read

In typical years, there’s a continuity to the annual planning process. Changes are incremental. Many budgets that were approved the previous year are simply carried over. Not so this year.

In 2020, everything has been turned upside-down, and all budgets are starting from scratch. Planning for the coming year will be more ambiguous and uncertain than ever. It’s time to ditch the carry-over mindset, which can’t solve the complex and often competing challenges faced by business leaders today. What we need now is to broaden our perspectives and use imagination to project into the future.

Back in the spring, when it became clear that coronavirus would reshape the entire world in short order, we began tracking principles to help us focus on understanding context as it evolves, having a clear vision for successful recovery, rebuilding for resilience, and designing through collaboration.

As we spoke to clients and business leaders within and outside of IDEO, we saw the opportunity to develop a tool that would help leaders plan with imagination for the tumultuous road ahead. We were inspired by the Early Recovery principles used by the United Nations to respond to crises or natural disasters. Early Recovery helps people and societies "build resilience and establish a sustainable process of recovery from crisis."

We’ve adapted this concept into a framework for organizations to use in planning the coming 12 months. The Build Back Bolder canvas offers a simple template for reflection, and a series of short exercises designed to help set strategic priorities and initiatives, and to uncover opportunities for growth and impact in the midst of fluctuating conditions. Build Back Bolder is a straightforward, two-page tool that business leaders can run alongside their own planning processes. It can help leaders and teams make sense of the present, get out of analysis-paralysis, and move towards action. Simply put, the Build Back Bolder canvas helps you think, and that helps you plan.

Circumstances don’t get much more ambiguous and uncertain than the ones we’re living through now. In moments of crisis, when markets are redefined, imagination rarely leads the day. But this instability calls for a more varied and experimental suite of tools. Change is inevitable, but using imagination is not. By choosing an imaginative approach, we can plan for a more resilient, bold, and sustainable 2021.

Download the Building Back a Bolder 2021 tool here.

Illustration by Charlota Blunarova

  • Luis Cilimingras

    Partner, IDEO London
    Luis Cilimingras is a partner at IDEO London. He is passionate about how organizations embrace creativity to feel more confident about their growth, impact, and future.
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