Gartner Business Quarterly

Proven guidance for C-suite action

2022 Q2

Business Planning for the Never Normal

Uncover strategies to navigate and thrive through
recurring major disruptions

The successive catastrophes of the past two years – COVID 19 and Russian Invasion of Ukraine – have hit far more than business of course with untold levels of exhaustion and stress.

These thunderbolts raise a host of questions for large and mid-size enterprises including:  How will organizations protect employees, customers or suppliers (can they prioritize all three)? Where in the world will they operate and sell their services and goods? Can they still propel prosperity and growth?

The Q2 2022 edition focuses on business planning during waves of global crisis — in the “never normal” and provides guidance on how business leaders can cope and thrive through recurring major shocks.

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    In this issue

    Business Planning for the “Never Normal”
    Letter From the Editor

    This issue of Gartner Business Quarterly is for the executive who sighed, during a conversation, about “the five minutes between omicron and the invasion” and for the corporate leader who told us his company isn’t preparing for “the new normal” or even “the next normal” — in his words: “it’s going to be the ‘never normal.’” Our core collection of short articles is for every organization where the crisis management committee seems to sit on permanent high alert. The successive catastrophes of the past two years transcended any one region — more than 6 million killed by COVID-19, more than 5 million refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, untold levels of exhaustion and stress.1 Meanwhile, climate change is here.2 These thunderbolts hit far more than business, of course. Still, they raise a host of basic questions for large and mid-size enterprises, private and public alike. How will organizations protect employees, customers or suppliers (can they prioritize all three)? Where in the world will they operate and sell their services and goods? Can they still propel prosperity and growth?

    To cope and thrive through recurring major shocks, you’ll need to break down more walls and build more bridges — get used to letting others inside and outside of your enterprise see deeper into your operations. We’ll show you how. You should — and this may be surprising advice — shrink your supply chain so it presents a smaller target for disruption. And you must keep spending for the future — we’ve got examples of how companies are doing that creatively. You’ll learn from the real-world experience of a global group of organizations including Allianz, First Solar, Ofwat, Repsol, Stanley Black & Decker, Sunbelt Rentals U.K. and Stora Enso. GBQ helps you align with others and reach peak effectiveness, so your enterprise can achieve its goals, be bold and principled, and bring employees, investors and the public along for the ride. Our standing departments keep you up to speed — Cutting Edge is a look at provocative new data; Briefs offer short takes about smarter spending and planning, talent and culture, growth and innovation, and data and technology.

    We welcome your feedback. Please contact me at

    — Judy Pasternak

    Good Process Inhibits Great Planning

    To compensate for heightened uncertainty, organizations are asking more people to review more data more often. Don’t stifle participants with added templates and meetings; strategic planning requires creativity and effort. Strategy leaders at progressive companies use tactics that offer more leeway.

    To Reduce Disruptions, Make Your Supply Chain a Smaller Target

    Chief supply chain officers can’t control the number of risks when they’re rocked by a seemingly endless series of seismic events. The typical action plan for unforeseen scenarios — responding to each one in turn and building resilience through backup suppliers or increased inventories — is no longer good enough. But CSCOs can limit their exposure in a surprising way.

    The Transparent Enterprise Builds Trust to Weather Storms

    Beyond the now-ubiquitous environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, organizations are publishing deeper dives into their water use, workforce diversity, supply chain labor practices and management of the personal data they collect. These disclosures have become critical building blocks of trust — vital to weathering external shocks that keep organizations asking investors, customers, regulators and employees to understand tough decisions to delay deliveries, raise prices, close retail outlets or freeze pay.

    Guide the Business to Realign Operations When Strategic Priorities Shift

    In times of turmoil, CFOs may fail to make a difference even if they wrestle funding away from capital uses that are fast losing value and surge large amounts to newly important initiatives. Capital pivots won’t work unless the people, technology and other capabilities that spending supports also flow to support execution. Only 32% of finance chiefs say their organization’s operational budgets are highly responsive to changes in strategic priorities. So they need to make allies in business units.

    How Major Shocks Affect Employees — And How You Can Support Them

    As long as businesses maintain multinational operations, they will experience significant shocks that rattle most — if not all — of the talent required to keep the enterprise running. Yet organizations can plan for and mitigate these effects; HR, the crisis management team, communications and every functional head and manager each play a role.


    3 Steps Data and Analytics Leaders Should Take During a Crisis

    When a crisis strikes, new streams of information can save the day. Data and analytics leaders to the rescue! To offer swift support and make a big impact, set up your team to triage projects, connect critical data trapped in business units and quickly create tools to help solve urgent problems.

    As Sanctions Go Global, Compliance  Gets Complicated

    Even for businesses that have significant experience with international trade and transactions, complying with sanctions against Russia and Belarus for the invasion of Ukraine is complicated by the sheer number of participating governments and the variety of regulations that apply. Here are some tips to keep up – this time and whenever a global sanctions coalition takes shape. 

    Partnering With Startups for Nimble Innovation

    Executive leaders must position their organizations to rapidly implement transformative ideas. Stora Enso came up with rules of engagement for partnering with startups that led to more than 26 new products in three years.

    A Digital Twin of a Customer Predicts the Best Consumer Experience

    Customer understanding and compassion were center-stage for organizations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because they were forced to look at things differently and accept that buying habits have changed. Executive leaders can respond by extending the concept of “digital twins,” common in manufacturing, to drive revenue, engagement and loyalty, increasing efficiency while also feeding insights into new product and service development.

    The Whiteboard: Big Questions to Ask About What Comes After Digital Business

    Despite the buzz, the metaverse has not yet reached its time. Another phase, autonomous business, must pave the way. Pioneering companies are starting to stitch together AI-enabled networks of programs and robots that write contracts, manufacture goods and sell services — with  each component self-adjusting output as circumstances change. Let’s head to the whiteboard and sketch out how to lift the entire enterprise to new peaks of efficiency.

    About Gartner Business Quarterly

    Gartner Business Quarterly provides business executives with insights from best practices research and the real-world experience of practitioners. The journal’s insights especially equip executives to tackle challenges that cut across the C-suite and affect multiple executive teams. Writers, contributors and data analysts are members of Gartner Research & Advisory (R&A) whose teams are led by Senior VP Val Sribar. The Gartner Business Quarterly publication is led by Editor-in-Chief Judy Pasternak with executive sponsorship by Group VP Scott Christofferson.