Strategic planning during COVID-19

The season of strategic planning has started. The CEO along with his/her executives will again put on their planning hats to chart the future of their organizations. The difference nowadays, just like last year, is that this critical activity will be done with limited physical interactions, if not, virtually.

While companies last year planned for business continuity, business recovery, and tweaking of business models, this year’s strategic planning themes will be about repositioning today’s business to maximize its resilience during the pandemic, while at the same time creating tomorrow’s new growth engine when economies bounce back. This is a strategic planning approach which we term as dual transformation.


A concept propounded by Clark Gilbert, Mark W. Johnson, and Scott D. Anthony in their book Dual Transformation, it has two streams — Transformation A, which is finding new possibilities for addressing existing markets, and Transformation B, which is about creating a powerful new growth engine for the future.

As I have written in my previous article, “many successful businesses face a growth challenge during this pandemic in the core markets they currently dominate.” Moreover, “consumers and business buyers have quickly shifted to digital platforms.”

Hence, many companies have adopted Transformation A, by identifying the shift in behaviors of your current customers, innovating your business model against this shift, determining, and monitoring new metrics, and aggressively implementing the transformation. This is exactly what Jollibee and other organizations did at the onset of the pandemic by quickly pivoting their business models to serve current customers that shifted to digital.

For those organizations which have haphazardly implemented Transformation A last year, this year is the time to plan for fine-tuning the business model and integrating digital systems with the other systems in the organization.

As an example, one large grocery chain set up an online ordering system last year to serve online buyers. The system is not integrated into their inventory system, such that if you order and stocks are not available, a staff will inform you of the unavailable stocks.

Organizations like this should tweak their business models, learn from their mistakes, and seamlessly integrate systems across the organization to enhance customer experience.


Apart from this, employee experience, indeed, should be a top priority of organizations, as part of Transformation A in this time of WFH arrangements. According to a recent survey held by isolved and published in Forbes, 92% of human resource leaders in the US set employee experience as a top priority in 2021. Employee experience is the employee’s perceptions about his or her journey through all the touchpoints at a particular company, from hiring, onboarding, engaging, performing, rewarding, developing, to departing. It is the employees who will execute Transformation A and B; and taking care of their experience during the pandemic makes perfect business sense.

But pursuing Transformation A is not enough. When the global economy bounces back, organizations need to expand their businesses to other untapped and constrained markets to create the growth engine of the future. For successful companies, future growth often must be found outside their core markets. But looking to new markets, new customers, and new business models is a big strategy. Hence, pursuing Transformation B is a sound strategic approach.

This involves identifying new and emerging customer personas, may it consumers or business customers, that have new sets of needs; and creating new offerings that address these needs.

For example, “increased use of digital tools is blurring the lines between work, lifestyle and social interaction and between domains like mobility, health, and finance,” according to Mahesh Puttaiah, senior economist, Swiss Re Institute. “We expect this to continue in the post-COVID-19 world,” he averred. New customer behaviors like this will need new products and services that may be a company’s future growth engine.


Organizations need to plan for Transformation A and B in a seamless and efficient fashion. Dual transformation is a journey that CEOs and the board need to understand and prepare for. It also entails transforming the organization’s mindset and culture.

Senior business executives should view and approach strategic planning from a different lens. It’s a different ball game altogether. The traditional approach will not work.

Reynaldo C. Lugtu, Jr. is the founder and CEO of Hungry Workhorse Consulting, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is the chairman of the Information and Communications Technology Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is a fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University.