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Shifting the Planning Paradigm

September 28, 2020 | Strategy
Person writing in planner

Healthcare communication and a new way to plan for 2021

Paradigm: par•a•digm, noun: example, pattern; a philosophical and theoretical framework.

Does that definition feel somewhat ironic considering the 2020 mood? Pattern? Framework? What example are we to follow in a world as crazy as 2020 has been?

Here’s another one:

Planning: plan•ning, verb: the act or process of making or carrying out plans (a method for achieving an end, an often customary method, a detailed formulation, an orderly arrangement, GOAL, AIM).

Did your blood pressure just rise?

As marketing professionals, we’re tasked with creating a PLAN for the year, months, days ahead. We’re detailed-oriented visionaries with a dash of creativity and nimble flexibility. And, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that some years we have to rely on that resourceful and imaginative flexibility more than the long-term stability of a documented plan. Because sometimes … those plans end up in a dumpster fire with all the hopes and dreams of a predictable 2020 … that wasn’t. We’re on the same page, right?

So we’re now looking at planning with a new lens. Reshaping the way we look ahead to the future. Let’s shift the planning paradigm for the better, and let this strange year make us stronger and more agile communication and marketing pros.

  • Tighten the planning window. Keep an eye on your annual goals, but focus on what communication and growth milestones are happening in the next six months. Those big plans that span years in advance are still important, but a rolling calendar may be more appropriate this year when you can shift launch dates, budgets and major events.
  • Quarterly tactics are all the rage. It’s time to really focus on what’s happening in the next 90 days and assign deliverables and metrics with actionable deadlines. The next quarter is upon us and moving, and even though things seem to change weekly, this window will allow you to keep in touch with your teams and plans while still shifting to current events. The following quarter (four to six months out) may feel less solid, but still try your best to anticipate what’s coming for your market and your organization, and how the shifting situation will impact you locally.
  • Make bigger goals, but stay flexible and nimble. Don’t lose track of big goals even though your planning window is shorter. Those big goals cannot and should not disappear, because mostly likely they’ll still be waiting for you when the world returns to normal (whatever that may be). Perhaps set those goals in pencil instead of permanent marker.
  • Work within the new framework of budget planning for your organization. Many health systems and practices have evaluated their financial planning and budgeting season so that campaigns can be adjusted for impact and relevance. You may have to be in contact with your CFO more than normal, but establishing a solid rapport and showing interest in the overall financial goals of the organization will have lasting impact for years to come.
  • Be sensitive to your team and the organization as a whole. If there have been budget cuts or adjustments to team structures, realizing now may not be the time for large, expensive campaigns can be a good thing. As always, show support internally and be creative with ways to involve team members in the messaging. “Togetherness” has been a rallying cry this year, and that internal bonding can yield big results.
  • Block your calendar and book a meeting with yourself. Protect this important time to revisit your planning strategies, identify what changed and evaluate your big goals. Save this time weekly so you can stay on top of the changes within the organization and pandemic swings. By reserving it on your calendar and blocking it from other distractions, you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan and prioritize your goals.

We’d love to hear from you.

Do you have ways you’re adjusting for the next three to six months? Have some strategy secrets to share? Connect with our strategy pros and let’s be nimble together!

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