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We are dealing with unprecedented change invoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. What we need more than ever is a sense of hope. So, we’ve taken The Outthinker Process – a strategic process that helps business leaders step outside of conventional thinking to redesign their business models and strategies – and reformed it specifically for what we’re going through right now.

We distilled insights and advice from personal interviews with some of today’s foremost strategic thought leaders – Renee Mauborgne, Rita McGrath, Efosa Ojomo, Bharat Anand, Alex Osterwalder, and Scott Anthony – into a succinct set of steps you can follow to make sense of the future then design a strategy to help your business thrive through the crisis.

We have found that by following four steps, you can quickly apply emerging strategic concepts to your business strategy, rethink your business model, and redesign your business to be fit for the future. We have customized these specifically for the COVID-19 crisis. The entire process should take 3.5 hours to complete. You can do it in one sitting or spread over several thinking sessions.

  1. Imagine (30 minutes): Think through potential future scenarios.
  2. Dissect (30 minutes): Break down your business model to assess which parts you may want to change.
  3. Expand (90 minutes): Expand your strategic options by ideating potential strategies.
  4. Analyze (60 minutes): Assess and prioritize your options.

Below is a brief summary of each step. For a thorough description that walks you through the entire process in detail, click here to review our free white paper on this topic.

Step 1: Imagine

COVID-19 has introduced such uncertainty into our businesses that traditional strategic visioning techniques are often irrelevant. As futurist Amy Webb advises, we cannot predict the future, but we can put our companies into a state of readiness.

By thinking through potential future scenarios, you and your team can shift from a state of fear to one of curiosity and determination.

Step 2: Dissect

The next step is to think expansively about how your business model may be impacted. There is a tendency to focus myopically on just a few elements of your business model (e.g., just product or how to deliver the product). But often opportunities and threats emerge in unexpected areas.

It helps to think through eight areas we call the 8Ps – positioning, product, pricing, placement, promotion, processes, physical experience, and people – and ask yourself if you need to consider new approaches for each area.

Step 3: Expand

Having dissected your business model, it’s now time to brainstorm new business model innovations and strategies you might consider. We work with a set of 36 strategic patterns that help people ideate creative, new strategies. View our white paper to see which patterns are particularly potent to apply right now.

For each strategic pattern, brainstorm as many ideas as you can for how to apply the pattern to your business.

Step 4: Analyze

The final step is to analyze and select which of the strategic options you generated you will prioritize. In normal times, a strategy’s primary function is to create clarity and direction. In times of great uncertainty, your strategy’s goal should be to create readiness and options.

Identify a few number of priorities you are reasonably confident in, and a handful of potential “pivots” you are planting the seeds of that could bear fruit depending on how the environment evolves. Assess each idea’s level of ease and impact on your business. This will give you four types of ideas, as outlined in the white paper.

Finally, pick a set of priorities to pursue now. Those priorities are your strategy.

You have outthought COVID-19.

“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?