Skip to main content

Your Strategic Plan Needs Adaptive Implementation

A strategic plan is an essential tool for organizations, outlining the steps to achieve long-term goals and objectives. However, creating a strategic plan is not enough; it needs adaptive implementation. Adaptive implementation refers to the ability of an organization to adjust and respond to unforeseen circumstances, opportunities or changes in the environment.

Here are five reasons why a strategic plan needs adaptive implementation:

  1. The environment is unpredictable

The world is constantly changing, and unforeseen events can affect the execution of a strategic plan. A strategic plan needs adaptive implementation to adjust to new challenges and opportunities. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on human services worldwide, and those with adaptive implementation were better equipped to respond and survive.

  1. The importance of feedback

A strategic plan needs feedback from stakeholders to evaluate its effectiveness. Adaptive implementation allows for ongoing feedback and the ability to adjust strategies based on that feedback. By continually assessing the effectiveness of a plan and making changes as needed, an organization can ensure that it is moving in the right direction.

  1. Resource constraints

Resource constraints can affect the implementation of a strategic plan. Adaptive implementation allows a team to adjust their strategies to better fit their available resources. By adjusting priorities and reallocating resources as needed, a team can ensure that it is making the best use of what it has.

  1. Changing priorities

Priorities can change, and a strategic plan needs to be flexible enough to adapt to those changes. Adaptive implementation allows for changes in priorities and objectives without disrupting the overall strategic plan. For example, a team may need to shift its focus to donor retention instead of donor acquisition, and adaptive implementation allows for this adjustment.

  1. Innovation and creativity

Innovation and creativity are essential to the success of a strategic plan, and adaptive implementation allows for experimentation and risk-taking. By allowing for new ideas and approaches, a business or organization can stay ahead of the competition and achieve its goals.

One example of a business that used an adaptive strategic plan is Airbnb. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the travel industry, with many countries implementing travel restrictions and lockdowns.

As a result, Airbnb’s business was severely impacted, with a sharp decline in bookings and revenue. However, instead of waiting for the situation to improve, Airbnb took proactive steps to adjust their strategic plan to the new reality.

The first step was to focus on local travel. With international travel restrictions in place, people were looking for safe and comfortable options for short-distance trips. Airbnb quickly adapted its search algorithm to prioritize local trips and launched a new feature called “Go Near,” which highlighted nearby destinations.

The second step was to improve the safety measures for guests and hosts. Airbnb introduced a new cleaning protocol, requiring hosts to follow strict cleaning guidelines, and launched a new feature called “Booking Buffer,” which introduced a 72-hour pause between bookings to allow for extra cleaning time.

The third step was to diversify its offerings beyond vacation rentals. With remote work becoming more prevalent, Airbnb launched a new product called “Experiences at Home,” offering virtual experiences such as cooking classes and online tours.

These adaptive strategies paid off, and Airbnb was able to recover quickly from the pandemic’s impact. In fact, the company’s revenue increased by 5% in 2020, despite the challenging environment. Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, credited the company’s adaptive strategic plan as a key factor in its success.

By being flexible and adaptable, a nonprofit can adjust to changing circumstances and ensure that it is moving in the right direction. Through ongoing feedback, adjusting priorities, and allowing for innovation and creativity, your organization can focus on mission without fearing the future.  

To learn more about adaptive strategic planning for nonprofits, reach out to The Hive Collective at