A  Sustainable Future with Adaptive Planning


Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

The global pandemic taught business leaders the importance of remaining flexible and adapting quickly to changing markets. The effects of COVID-19 may be subsiding, but the need to remain adaptive has not. Between emerging technologies, shifting consumer demands, supply chain disruptions, and inflation concerns, today’s organizations must have the ability to veer and adjust as necessary. The adaptive planning model is an effective way to build flexibility into your business strategy. 

The Importance of Adaptive Planning

Adaptive enterprise planning involves building a flexible business plan that can easily adjust to shifts in various factors, such as goals, objectives, customer demand, dependencies, constraints, risks, and feedback. Some business leaders incorrectly use the terms agile planning and adaptive planning interchangeably. Despite their similarities, these planning methods differ in both scope and purpose.

While agile planning focuses on building flexibility at the operational level, adaptive planning is done at the organizational level. Adaptive planning requires collaboration from all key players. Several factors make now the right time to switch from a traditional planning model to an adaptive one.

Ability to Adapt to Shifting Markets

It is imperative that your company is flexible enough to adapt to the changing market of today. Adaptive planning assumes that changes will occur. Consequently, businesses have to evaluate and adjust their business plans.

Prepare for the Future

Since adaptive, flexible planning requires frequent assessments, it allows your team to forecast the future needs of the company better. This step enables your company to readjust its business plan to prepare for the future. This continuous cycle of assessment and adjustment can give your company a competitive edge so it can remain relevant and successful.

Data-Driven Decisions

One of the best benefits of adaptive planning is that it allows businesses to make collaborative, data-driven decisions. Building an effective adaptive planning model requires collecting and analyzing various data points. With this process already built into your business model, your teams always rely on the real-time planning potential it needs to make sound business decisions.

Build Resilience into Business Plan

Most importantly, adaptive strategic planning can help build resilience. It allows your company to prepare for the unexpected. So, when markets shift, supply chain challenges occur, or a labor shortage hinders production, your company will not be stuck navigating these issues with a rigid, traditional business plan. Instead, it can quickly set new goals, shift priorities and efficiently communicate these changes to all key players.

Steps for Effective Adaptive Planning

Studies show that 90% of small business owners have concerns about inflation, yet less than 25% have any type of plan in place to deal with this challenge. This statistic is concerning at best. Adaptive planning cannot only help your organization deal with inflation concerns, but it can help it navigate a variety of challenges.

It is necessary to set up a business planning process to be effective. Here is a look at the main steps of adaptive business planning.

Set Business Plan Objectives

The first step of any successful business plan, including adaptive planning, is to set clear goals and objectives. For adaptive management, this step requires high-level, dynamic planning that involves collaboration from all key players.


The next step is to break these goals and objectives into smaller, more manageable targets. Next, your team must prioritize these goals. Naturally, immediate goals most important to the company should receive the highest priority. While objectives that are long-term or are still developing should receive lower priority. This step allows the company to focus on the essential objectives and can help avoid wasting too many resources on pursuits that are likely to shift significantly over time.


With priorities set, your company can develop effective strategies for meeting these goals and objectives, with the most focus on high-priority objectives. The project planning process should also be collaborative, with all key players working towards the same common goals and mission.


Naturally, the next step is to put your business planning strategies into action. This step involves company-wide communication to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.


One of the most critical parts of adaptive business planning is to evaluate outcomes. This type of assessment is done regularly. For example, planning assessments should be done quarterly at a minimum. Set regular times for these evaluations, but be prepared to conduct additional assessments if a significant challenge, such as supply chain disruptions, occurs. This evaluation allows your teams to determine what strategies are working and where improvements or shifts are necessary.

Adapt Business Plan

Once you analyze results and bring in other factors, such as new challenges, customer demands, and emerging trends, you can start to adapt your business plan. Consider customer and employee feedback, company values, changes in the market or economies, potential risk factors, and other notable factors. This process involves more than just shifting a few objectives. It may require refining the scope of your business plan, eliminating or shifting long-term goals, reevaluating priorities, or other adjustments.

Steps for Effective Adaptive Planning

Traditional planning typically takes a long-term approach that teams only evaluate annually. This rigid approach can be practical for five-year planning, but it also can be challenging to adjust and alter once in place. While traditional planning served a purpose in the past, it simply cannot keep up with today’s fast-paced markets.

On the other hand, adaptive planning takes a more flexible approach where scale and scope can be quickly adjusted to meet emerging demands in the market. This planning alternative focuses on team collaboration and assigning priorities to various goals and strategies to ensure the most critical objectives receive the most attention.

Tools and Techniques for Adaptive Planning

There are several tools and techniques available to make adaptive planning more efficient. It is necessary to evaluate your options and make sure that the tools you choose offer the flexibility required by your company. For example, your company can use multiple innovative games and techniques to help brainstorm new ideas, such as the Sailboat Game and Prune the Product Tree.

You can also use techniques such as surveys, questionnaires, and interviews to gain feedback from employees and customers. Tools, including Affinity Estimation, Planning Poker, and Wideband Delphi, can help teams better plan and set precise estimates.

Using Strategic Advisors to Implement Adaptive Planning

Preparing your business for the future means being flexible enough to adapt. Transitioning from a traditional business model to adaptive planning can be challenging. A strategic advisor can help make this smooth and effective transition. Contact Hamptons Group today to meet with one of our experienced strategic advisors.