Business Planning. My First year was 2020, now what?

By: Greg Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Denholtz Properties

This piece originally appeared on a LinkedIn article written by Greg Brown.

Denholtz Properties Appoints Industry Veteran Greg Brown as First COO

Twelve months ago I began my position as Chief Operating Officer of Denholtz Properties and it went exactly as planned! OK, well not exactly. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle, I find plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”

So what did I learn in 2020 that might be useful to others? I will attempt to summarize and share those experiences here:

Team is everything.

Hopefully you are surrounded by good people all rowing in the same direction. If not, make changes. Now.

Try to slow down major decision making. 

On the surface, this seems counterintuitive. But you can’t let the ‘fog of war’ govern your long-term decision making. It is important to be calm and measured. I remember working in Washington, DC after 9-11. There was real belief that no other office building would be built in the city because nobody would be able to afford terrorism insurance. Today, there are ‘hot takes’ all around us as well. “Office is dead.” “No tenants will be signing a lease longer than 3years.” “Nobody is going to go to restaurants after this.” While major changes are upon us it is important to remember that, the COVID-19 pandemic was not itself the change, but an accelerant to change that had already begun. Do not build your company based solely on the behaviors of people during the last 12months.

Prioritization might change hourly.

 Plans are dynamic, fluid, ever changing. Because the internal and external factors that impact those plans can change rapidly. Don’t try to change the environment to fit your plan, change your plan to fit the environment. Too much pride of authorship in a plan will hamper your ability to be decisive.

Preserve time for thinking. 

Either Bill Gates or Warren Buffet said in an interview that “Busy is the new stupid.” If you are in a position of leadership, close the door, turn off the phone (or at least put it on the other side of the room), and clear your head. Take time to think. In many cases, that is what you’re actually paid to do- not crank out emails.

If you are a leader, listen more. 

Empathy is underestimated in leadership. People are under significant stress and have been for nearly a year. All people manage that stress differently. Be invested in your employees by listening to them- not just about their jobs and workload but their lives. How is homeschooling going? How are isolated parents coping? How can the company better support them?

I will also say that I have never been more optimistic about the market at large, the firm, or what the future holds. This pandemic was a natural disaster, not a fundamental market flaw like 2008. Hopefully you can look back and see how 2020 has prepared you to be a better person, leader, and citizen.