Looking Ahead: Strengthening Resilience through Anticipation and Planning

Read Time: ~4 min.

GPS road image. Click on image to go to this page on our website: https://tenaciouschange.us/adapt-strategy/

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Looking Ahead is one of the most important activities an organization or group can undertake in The Resilience Practice Mix™.

This is the second in a series on strengthening group and organizational resilience using The Resilience Practice Mix.

Definition of Resilience: The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruption from Denyer, 2017.

At Tenacious Change we have helped numerous groups do this through our Adaptive Strategy Planning™ process. Adaptive Strategy Planning can be paired with an Organizational Study, or it can stand alone. In either case, it contributes to strengthening resilience in at least three ways.

First, it helps groups and organizations foresee and anticipate emerging opportunities, challenges, and trends. A Context Assessment and Data Review & Analysis involves the planners in participatory action research which helps them discern what may lie ahead for the organization or group.

Second, it enables and facilitates scenario planning in which groups can envision and assess multiple paths and contingencies for the future. Strategy planning is NOT about selecting the only path into the future. It is about innovating, exploring, and discussing various scenarios for how the group could go and then selecting the BEST PATH at the time. What happens to those paths not taken? They still remain available should it become necessary to change course.

Third, the flexibility it builds into the strategic plan allows rapid response to both incremental and sudden disruptions. Still, in the midst of responding, the organization’s vision, mission, values, and strategic goals do not get lost. One of the benefits of Adaptive Strategy Planning is it offers a means for adjusting the activities, tactics, and even the strategic goals of the plan without requiring a change in the mission, vision, or values of the group. Included in our Adaptive Strategy Plan is guidance on how to make those adjustments when needed.

Image of The Resilience Practice Mix. Click on image to be taken to our flyer, The Road to Resilience.

We think Adaptive Strategy Planning is a lot like using a GPS in a car. The driver identifies the destination (vision and mission) and the GPS produces an overview map of how to get to the destination (strategy). Once the driver accepts the route, suggested turn-by-turn directions appear (activities and tactics) and action needs to be taken. When the driver goes off course, or circumstances require the driver to take an alternate route, the GPS will make a mid-course correction and provide a new map (strategy) for getting to the final destination. Adaptive Strategy Planning supports a group or organization in updating their “maps” as needed. Adaptive Strategy Planning anticipates and supports mid-course corrections.

Three values guide our Adaptive Strategy Planning approach:

  1. Planning can be done quickly with quality.
  2. Planning needs to be asset-based and focused on doing more of what is already working well.
  3. Planning has to include a process for rapidly, thoughtfully adjusting the plan when needed.

Since Tenacious Change began in 2013, Adaptive Strategy Planning has been one of our most requested services. We’ve worked with voluntary organizations and nonprofit organizations of diverse sizes, from 2 staff to 5,000. Want to see a sample of an Adaptive Strategy Plan we’ve completed with a client? Request it by sending us an email at info@tenaciouschange.us.

In the meantime, you can learn more at our website where you can download a free four-page overview of Adaptive Strategy Planning. You’ll learn more about how Adaptive Strategy Planning strengthens the resilience of your organization, its benefits to your group, the process we use, and the values that inform our process.


Denyer,D. (2017). Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking. BSI and Cranfield School of Management.

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