Building Back a Bolder 2021

A tool to reflect on 2020 and help teams plan the next 12 months.


It's planning season. The events of 2020 have turned most of last year's plans upside-down; planning for 2021 needs to reflect that, and make room for bigger, bolder, braver ideas. We have made a simple tool to help you and your team think it all through. 

We call it the Build Back Bolder canvas. 

  • Easy to use
  • Helps teams align on ‘fewer, bolder priorities’ for 2021
  • Powerful, actionable insight

You can download it for free:

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Clients who've used it said:

“This is a simple but powerful tool. Our whole corporate leadership should start using it on a quarterly basis.” —Chief Innovation Officer, Retail Group

“The exercise was extremely helpful at bringing together diverse lived experiences of this period and agreeing on what we want to achieve next year.” —CEO, Healthcare

“We are approaching 2021 with reduced budgets and increased uncertainty. It was useful to step back and align as a team on the few initiatives we need to focus on to build our future selves.” —CFO, Financial Services

“The biggest value was creating room for reflection. With the perspective of how fast we managed to reprioritize through 2020, we can plan 2021 differently, focussing on fewer but bolder goals.”
CHRO, Retail

Explaining our thinking

The thinking behind this canvas started soon after coronavirus began having global impact in March 2020.

We were inspired by the Early Recovery principles used by the United Nations to respond to crises or natural disasters. Early Recovery helps people and societies "build resilience, and establish a sustainable process of recovery from crisis."

These principles focus on understanding context as it evolves, having a clear vision for successful recovery, rebuilding for resilience, and design through collaboration. We think they offer a useful framework for all organisations as they regroup in the wake of this year’s disruption.

Design tools like this canvas are useful ways to explore ambiguity and uncertainty. Circumstances don’t get much more ambiguous and uncertain than the ones we’re living through now.

The canvas helps because it gathers related thoughts together, in one place, and gives them some shape. It helps you think, and that helps you plan.

Notes on using the canvas

  • You might end up with more questions than answers, but don't be discouraged. Turn your list of questions into a ranked list of assumptions, with the riskiest ones at the top - this will help you know where to focus.
  • This is a chance to reflect. Most organisations have had to shift their thinking and change their offer in a hurry, just to keep pace with changing events. Use this exercise to look back over the year so far, and consider the things that have changed for now, and the things that have changed forever.
  • It's also a chance to look ahead. Use this tool to imagine possibilities and opportunities in 2021 and beyond. Consider your customers: What will they need? How will you be able to help them?
  • Revisit and rethink your 2020 strategy. Last year's priorities feel like a distant memory for most of us, in a year where every organisation has raced to adapt to a world shaped by the virus. This canvas helps you re-evaluate those priorities and make practical decisions: Which will you double down on? Which will you let go? Which ones need reform? Where do you need to place new bets, with new ideas?
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Your feedback can help us improve it

Please send us your comments and suggestions for improving the Build Back Bolder canvas.

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