COVID-19, You Ruined My 2020 Plans

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By Dave “Dr. Dave” Cornelius, DM

On Wednesday, March 3, 2020, I drove from meeting with a client in Phoenix to my home in Tucson. I had planned to attend an entrepreneur event at the University of Arizona, but I did not feel well so I decided not to attend. That night I got the chills, body aches, fever, the works: the flu.

This can’t be the flu, I thought. I took the flu shot. When I take the flu shot, I never get the flu.

I called my client the next day. I let them know that I would be out for the rest of the week and would return to work on Monday. By Sunday the chills and body aches had gone away, but I had a cough that took my breath away. My client kindly offered to have me to work remotely for the rest of the week…

The following week, they told me that everyone would be working remotely. The Phoenix office would be temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

I had big plans for 2020. I was going to pay off some debt and experience financial freedom, all while launching a startup company. I know this may sound like an oxymoron – how does someone get out of debt AND launch a startup? But it was possible for me; I was about to sign a contract with my client that would have kept revenue flowing through Q1 of 2021. But now? That contract, along with just about everything else in the world, is in uncertain territory. Perhaps you can relate!

We are currently in a Turbulent, Uncertain, Novel, and Ambiguous (TUNA) season. I’m sure most of us are feeling some emotional distress during these times – I certainly am (I enjoy fresh tuna, but not when it is turning my world upside down)!

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event in our lifetime, and it has created turbulence, uncertainty, and ambiguity for our lives and businesses. We have a health crisis, social justice challenges, financial crisis, and political chaos in the United States and around the world. As the chaos has persisted this past 5 months, I have found myself asking one big question:

“How will I survive this TUNA mess and get back to my 2020 plans?”

I am sure many others are having the same conversations and worries.

Lately, I’ve been researching ways to navigate this TUNA dilemma, as my plans prior to COVID-19 have now been nuked. In my research, I found a few articles on scenario-based planning that may help, and I’ve turned to the agile concept and practice of Design Thinking Strategy to help me visualize my choices in this new world. How does Design Thinking Strategy work? There are seven main steps:

  1. Identify the strategic problem (what is blocking us from achieving our aspirations?)
  2. Frame a question (turn the problem into a question; “How might we…”)
  3. Generate strategic possibilities
  4. Ask, what would have to be true to make these possibilities a reality?
  5. Identify barriers (what is the greatest challenge?)
  6. Test to learn (research, create prototypes, run design tests)
  7. Make a choice

Use the strategic choice cascade:

  • Winning aspiration
  • Where to play?
  • How to win?
  • What are the capabilities?
  • Management systems

If I use the Design Thinking Strategy framework, I can define a path forward for my current situation. Let’s break it down:

My Strategic Problem: COVID-19 disrupted economic flow for trainers and coaches

My Question: How can I train and coach clients virtually and retain a competitive rate?

Possibilities: Use Zoom meeting with PowerPoint; Create on-demand, stand-alone courses

What would have to be true: Clients are open to virtual training and coaching.

Identify barriers: It may be tough to connect with decision makers; I’ll have to develop a digital course platform

Test to Learn: Work with a local Meetup group to test hypothesis; Try a membership model; Offer free options

Make a choice (Strategic Choice Cascade):

  • Winning Aspiration: Become the primary source for immersive learning experiences and agile coaching for product development teams
  • Where to Play: United States and Canada
  • How to Win: Price sensitivity; Best customer service; frictionless customer experience
  • Capabilities: Ability to create digital content with voice overs and digital courses
  • Systems: Learning Management System with e-commerce capabilities

Evaluating my options and writing them down (literally, with sticky notes, a marker, and a wall) really helped get my concerns out of my head and made the opportunity visible. After my design thinking strategy session, I was less stressed, and the future felt a little more certain. I was able to build a story that has the potential to guide me out my current TUNA experience. This is what agile training is all about – giving development teams the tools and systems necessary to help us innovate through challenging times.Eventually, the COVID-19 crisis will come to an end. But life is full of surprising twists and turns; if you want to navigate them successfully, from the office to your personal life, you need to be adept in agile training.

If you want to learn more about Design Thinking Strategy, contact Dr. Dave today! You can also contact us for agile coaching, training and consulting services to help you achieve awesomeness by visiting

Sponsors & Summary

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Checkout Dr. Dave’s latest book Elastic Minds: What are you thinking? On  You will also find his book Transforming your leadership Character: The lean thinking and agility way on

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This podcast and interview produced by Dr. Dave Cornelius

Until next time, find your awesomeness.

Copyright 2020 KnolShare and Dr. Dave Cornelius.