his article is based on some of the ideas that came up last week in my LinkedIn Live Session. I’m a beta tester for this new feature, which allows for a more direct, realtime and raw connection with the community. I’ll be LIVE every Friday at Noon Pacific. If you follow me on LinkedIn, you’ll be automatically notified. I’d love if you join me!
Did you have launch planned for this spring that went awry? A conference that was canceled, a project put on hold, or a new product that was scaled down? Or maybe, like me, you had written a book that was scheduled for spring of 2020 release?
The Best Laid Plans…
Starting last July, just after submitting the manuscript for The Forever Transaction, I started planning for the launch. I booked speaking events, planned parties, and even organized a special event at my favorite bookstore in the world, Kepler’s. The launch plan was designed to support the book, and to get the ideas that I’d be developing for the past 5 years out into the world.
It was also going to be fun. For an extrovert like me, sharing the book was the big payoff for writing the book.
But over a few days in March, everything changed. The book was still scheduled to launch, but all live events were canceled. And we weren’t even sure how and when books that had been ordered would reach the stores and book buyers.
I knew that the book had useful guidance and inspiration for leaders who were trying to provide ongoing value for the people they served, and that my core message was more important than ever. But it felt uncomfortable to talk about a book when people were in such dire situations.
I had to rethink the entire plan.
Rethink Tactics and Strategy–You Might Still Achieve Your Goal
While we can’t control the future, we can make intentional choices to help shape the best version of it come to life.–Lisa Kay Solomon
Feel it. To be completely honest, the first thing I did was mourn the awesome launch I had planned. My sister the psychologist points out that acknowledging feelings is critical to moving forward.
Take care of your stakeholders. Just in the past year, The Business Roundtable expanded its mandate beyond shareholders to include stakeholders such as employees, customers and community members. Before focusing too much on your launch at hand, it might be a good time to check in with your stakeholders, to see how they’re doing and how you might help.
Take a step back and reassess the goal. Focus on the big goal (i.e. not “to have a great launch” but “to get the work into the right people’s hands”). Why was it that you were planning your launch? In service of what goal? Developing strategy almost always starts with taking a step back to see the bigger picture and remember where you’re trying to go, rather than obsessing about tactics that are no longer effective.
Rethink the how. You might still be able to achieve your big goal, but with different tactics. Be willing to pivot and be creative about both messages and packaging of the value you wanted to launch. Teachers are embracing distance learning to educate students. Vets are using telemedicine to keep pets healthy. If you can’t have a conference, think about other ways to connect people and inspire them–masterminds, video, one-to-one coaching. You may be using the same content, but find a different point of entry, or “hook” to help your audience connect.
Find support. Don’t isolate. Find colleagues in the same situation—to brainstorm with, to support you. And for you to support. Getting outside yourself can be tremendously healing. I have had some of the best conversations with colleagues and friends via video conference this month. It’s a different kind of connection. While there are downsides to not being in person, the upside is that you can reach out to people that are far away, and also that most people are comfortable with video in a way they historically haven’t been.
Be open to a silver lining. I’m not saying that there is a silver lining. Sometimes there’s just disappointment. When all of this first happened–people being diagnosed, laid off, sent home from school–I wasn’t a big fan of the “look on the bright side” advice. That being said, even if you don’t want to “be relentlessly positive” you can at least strive to be neutral and acknowledge where we are without spiraling into negativity. And allow for the possibility that these new constraints could result in an outcome that’s even better than originally planned.
Hang in there.
It’s too soon to tell how the book is going to do. Sales numbers are just starting to trickle in. I am getting positive feedback from early readers that the book is helping them deepen relationships with customers and in many cases reduce churn.
I hope others will use the tactics in the book to find their north star — the one that will guide them through the uncharted waters of the current environment.
None of this is what we expected. And it can be hard to change course so abruptly and with so little warning.
Hang in there. And if I can help you as you reorient yourself, please let me know. I’m finding that getting outside myself and helping others is the best thing I can do right now.