Photo courtesy of: Greg Land

Resilience Planning for your Community

April 30, 2020  |  Kayla Anthony, AICP

Whether you are on the front lines of your community’s COVID response team or working from home to support ongoing operations and projects, you are likely wondering how we will adapt to the many changes happening across our society today.

Wherever you find yourself along that spectrum, we want to take a moment to pause and thank you for the hard work you are doing to ensure our communities emerge from this crisis better and stronger than ever. We recognize how difficult it is to stay focused on your work in the face of disruption. Yet, we also know that it is important to keep our organizations forging ahead.

Building Your Resilience Through Planning

You have likely heard of resilience planning—perhaps your school district has prepared for a natural disaster or your city is adapting and growing amid an affordable housing crisis. Resilience applies to the many stressors organizations face, from business and operations to specific building designs and performance goals.

Resilience is more than a plan or a discreet action—it’s a behavior and mindset embedded within an organization’s DNA over time. How that embedding happens is the result of planning, though, and all of the associated conversations and thought processes.

While we know planning can’t predict the future, it can prepare you for what might lie ahead and help you recover, adapt, and even grow when new circumstances arise. 

Learning and Adapting

So what about all of your previous planning efforts that did not include a global pandemic? Perhaps you just completed a strategic plan or long-range facilities plan and are thinking, Was that all for naught?

We offer this—it is the act of planning that helps you become more resilient. Intentional planning efforts reinforce your mission and vision over the long term. Planning efforts help you determine goals, analyze alternatives, and prioritize objectives. They give you meaning and direction by providing a “north star” to guide your day-to-day actions and decisions.

During times of uncertainty, the ability to adjust and adapt from the previously understood path forward can ensure projects or initiatives can still deliver on critical outcomes over time. Meaning: Those efforts were not for naught. You still know where you eventually want to go, you just may take a slightly different path and go a different speed to get there.

Take the time to pause and assess what future outcomes continue to be important to your community or organization regardless of today’s circumstances. An easy place to start is with your organization’s established plans.

At B&D, we structure our ‘north star’ thinking around a framework that can be used to organize the key messages and paths within those established plans:

  • Guiding Principles – The important values and beliefs to be universally understood during any decision-making process. This is where your ‘north star’ is articulated.
  • Objectives & Priorities – The outcomes you must accomplish to reach your ‘north star’.
  • Strategies – The approach to achieve your objectives and put guiding principles into action.
  • Activities – The tools and actions that will implement your strategies.

Together, this framework ensures bottom-up actions are aligned with top-down principles. Taking a moment to reflect on how your existing plans can fit within this framework will help provide meaning and direction for both day-to-day and long-term decision-making.

We know our communities are currently facing some of the most challenging circumstances of modern times, and we believe that together we can emerge more focused than ever. Communities are the backbone of our society. It’s why our entire firm is centered on shaping and strengthening them.

We hope you’ll check back here periodically as we share specific tips for resilience planning. In the meantime, continue to practice safe and healthy social distancing and take refuge in the fact that our communities will emerge from this better and stronger than ever.

"The leadership and information from B&D, and the clarity with which they provide it, brings added credibility to the process and ensures that a range of university stakeholders, including senior leadership and our board, are fully informed for – and confident in – their required decision making.”

B.J. Crain, Former Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration
Texas Woman’s University

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