A Post-Pandemic Strategy for Organizations

Begin By Asking This Question

Jan 27, 2021
Management and Organization

SMITH BRAIN TRUST  What should organizations do as they emerge from the COVID-19 crisis?

Create a plan for the next catastrophic event, says Maryland Smith’s Oliver Schlake.

Speaking to a group of Maryland business owners as part of the Smith School’s free Maryland Business: Rebooted webinar series, Schlake explained what that entails.

“Great strategies are also highly flexible,” he said. They are a rough roadmap for turbulent times, allowing organizations to shift and adapt.

“A good strategy has these kind of, let's say, exit ramps, where you can say, "OK, if the economy goes this way, we are doing this. If the economy goes that way, we are doing that.’ "

A good strategy affords leaders flexibility, knowing that the key contingencies have already been carefully considered in advance – not in the crux of crisis, but when times were good. The strategy likely won’t account for the intricacies of every new crisis, but it will serve as a solid jumping off point, said Schlake, who has worked as an international management consultant and strategic advisor for leading companies and government agencies in Europe and North America.

“You're putting time in there when things are good, when you have the time, so that when the economy or any outside conditions are changing, you can then switch over to what you've already thought through,” Schlake said. “You go back to your notes or to your slide deck that you created and say, ‘Look, we thought about this about a year ago. Here's what we came up with. Here's the plan we put in. So, let's revisit that, but I think we have a good head start.’ "

Doing so, incorporating strategic foresight as a business function, can put organizations at an advantage in times of turmoil.

“If this event proved one thing it’s that this very strange scenario which we're living through, actually can happen, right? And it's not just speculation or a science fiction movie or whatever and so we should have a more expanded imagination here,” he said.

And it starts with asking, “What could happen?”



About the Expert(s)


Dr. Oliver Schlake is a Clinical Professor at Robert H. Smith School of Business, a senior business consultant, entrepreneur and researcher. His publications and research on scenario-based strategic planning and innovation strategy have been featured in leading academic and practitioner journals worldwide. Oliver has been an international management consultant and strategic advisor for leading companies and government agencies in Europe and North-America. Prior to joining the Smith School he was Assistant Professor for E-Business at National University, San Diego and CEO for German based consulting firm Scenario Management International (ScMI AG).

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