Six Steps to a More Resilient Organization
by Marty Kirshner, CPA, MSA & Joe Ciccarello, CPA, MST, Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP
Strategic planning provides direction in turbulent times
It has never been easy to run a successful energy company. But the array of obstacles lining up to impede the path to a profitable future for your fuel oil or propane business may be more formidable than ever. The global pandemic, pricing fluctuations, a tight labor market, and a political environment hostile to the products you sell are just a few of the hurdles that must be overcome.
But putting out today’s fires is not a long-term solution. It is essential for those in a position of leadership to set aside time and energy to plan for what’s next. According to management guru Peter Drucker, your role when faced with difficult challenges is “to make sure of the institution’s capacity for survival, to make sure of its structural strength and soundness, of its capacity to survive a blow, to adapt to sudden change, and to avail itself of new opportunities.”
Here are six ways you can work to create a strategic plan for your company’s future that will help your business become a more resilient organization.
1. Be the leader. The people who work for you look to you for strength and direction. They trust that you know how to solve problems and get the company through crises. Now is the time you should be crafting a strategy, creating a decision-making framework, and guiding implementation of those actions that will put your business in a better position both now and for what lies ahead.
2. Use data to drive decision making. You can’t bet your future on a gut feeling or by emulating what your competitors are doing. Now, more than ever, you need solid, accurate information on which to base decisions. Data analytics have made huge advances in the last several years, and the information you need is likely to be available if you know where to look.
3. If this, then that. While you can’t predict the future you can postulate potential developments based on the data you have and broader industry trends. Scenario planning can help you create a successful strategy when times are uncertain. The objective of scenario planning is to help assure success in multiple futures. The process involves envisioning alternate futures, identifying a premeditated strategy for each of those potential scenarios, and discovering the common threads among all of them that can help you create a more resilient response to whatever occurs.
4. Expand your vision. We are all guilty at times of reverting to what we know and basing decisions on previous experiences. Life has changed dramatically, requiring a true leader to look beyond the walls of their own world view. It takes courage to consider new ideas and directions, but that wider vision is necessary to see the path that will take your business forward.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Turbulent times require more communication, not less. Don’t keep your plans a secret. Share them with people who have a vested interest in your success, including employees, customers and vendors. You will gain trust and support for your mission.
6. Don’t travel alone. Being in a position of responsibility does not mean you are on your own. Surround yourself with people who can provide perspective, fresh thoughts and their own experience. Some will be those who you have relied on previously, but be open to listening to others who can help improve the quality of your decisions.
Thinking strategically takes time and effort. But the outcome is worth the endeavor. Your actions over the next year can help your business emerge from this situation better, stronger and less vulnerable.
Marty Kirshner and Joe Ciccarello are Partners in the Energy Practice Group at Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP, a business consulting and accounting firm that serves the heating oil and propane industry. They can be reached at 781-407-0300 or email@example.com.