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Managing Uncertainty through Uncertain Times

The business environment is fluctuating rapidly and is becoming progressively uncertain due to the disruption triggered by new digital technologies, deregulation, new business models, the threat of new competitive entrants, political conditions, and now Epidemic Threats!

With all what we are going through Uncertainty is our new constant reality. With all the threats we are encountering; Only Adaptability will shape our success. With all the ambiguity that we are going through; THE DECISIONS WE MAKE TODAY will shape how will our future looks like!

The organizations are facing escalating threat that is affecting their operational fabrics and might eventually lead to severe losses if it is not surpassed!

As such, let us for the sake of experiment explore the following disruptive questions:

  • Are organizations going to allow panic to become their navigator? And how long they can sustain this panic before they collapse?
  • Are organizations ready to let go of their goals and strategic objectives?
  • To what extent organizations are willing to contribute positively in the market place?
  • Can organizations simply change their mindset and adapt to new ideas in running their business?

What can we do to remain productive in a volatile situation?

All these questions are imposed to intrigue your thinking as business leaders. In this short article I am demonstrating some ideas that can be beneficial to derive quick response to the current crisis and offering transformative thinking pattern to over come uncertainty through exploring business continuity plans that can help building adaptive point of view that can counter-attack the current disruptive events!

Paradox: When unstoppable force faces immovable object

Managing Uncertainity - Covid '19A Firm’s corporate level strategy is centered on its long-term direction and competitive market positioning. However, the change and uncertainty of many of today’s markets can make it difficult for executives to envision such long-term positions. Developing a corporate level strategy must not only consider the long-term direction and competitive position of the firm, it also needs to take into account the allocation of resources and the development of new capabilities that will deliver competitive advantage. These considerations become particularly difficult when uncertainty reaches its peak! The dilemma to be attended will be in the question of what should be done?

The argument in this article is an act of reminding you that we live in a VUCA world and this is the irresistible force, and for those who are not acquainted by this arcanum, lets make it simple, Four distinct types of challenges that demand four distinct types of responses for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Managing Uncertainity - Covid '19 - 2Understanding VUCA will allow you to develop your adaptive leadership style to anticipate Corporate level strategy, managing uncertainty through uncertain times, Business planning, identifying Future markets, and finally to design Scenario planning in such economically and socially disturb and very connected era. VUCA imposes the types of challenges that we need to take in consideration, accept and embrace in order to ensure organizational sustainability.

You need to prepare and respond to events in each of the four VUCA categories. Sadly, for many reading this article this is not theoretical proposition it is as real as it can get!

Managing Uncertainity - Covid'19 - 3Second, we consider the following disruptive scenario; Do we have to Panic on crisis?

This dynamic competitive environment increases the level of uncertainty for leadership and strategic planning teams who bear responsibility for the strategic development of the firm, particularly in terms of analyzing the current situations, identifying future direction, scope, and the strategy required to deliver on corporate objectives. This in turn, places increased examination on the strategic planning tools that are used to undertake a rational and comprehensive analysis of the market dynamics that inform strategy formulation.

How would your strategy formulation look like with the arrival of COVID-19?

Ambitious goals aimed at completely avoiding risks might not be feasible in such a turbulent environment we are living in-don’t you think?

To tackle this disruptive scenario let us go back to basics. Throughout the course of history, the survival was not only the fittest as the proverb might say, but also, to those who demonstrated high ability to adapt to challenging and changing situations and environment!

Managing Uncertainity - Covid'19 - 4In this possible scenario it is highly recommended that business leader consider the following:

  • Leaders within organizations will need to develop management tools that imagines future environments and helps develop long-term strategy in even the most uncertain scenarios
  • Organizations need to respond to a dynamic business environment by strategizing in a way that allows them to prepare for multiple futures scenarios, with multiple simulated strategies.
  • Develop holistic business environment exploration by generating substantial amount of dialogue through creative thinking, brainstorming, and intuition
  • Design new decision-making techniques derived away from conventional statistical forecasting techniques as they are deemed as inadequate due to the environmental uncertainty!

Third, it is the company’s choice to fly or fight! It is your Choice

Take Care of Fire,
Learn from Water,

Cooperate with Nature

Managing Uncertainity - Covid'19 - 5The goal of this argument is to allow the practice new ways of problem solving and critical thinking in an unpredictable and fast-changing environment.

When there is shortage of a commodity in the market, we switch our demand to substitute goods.

Indeed, companies in the times of crisis should take preemptive measures but never to over do it! Where ever the mind goes the energy flow.

For instance, Corona (COVID-19) is spreading and governments are in guard mode, what if the airports closed forever for multiple countries in which Corona is going viral? How would your organization and your leadership team respond? What would you do to overcome these problems? What is your survival mode?

To be clearly better positioned to respond to evolving and unpredictable threats.

Just as important, companies need to ask, “What real-time sensing and coordinating mechanism (mutual adjustment, direct supervision, standardization) will we use to respond to events we can never fully anticipate?”

While managing uncertainty through uncertain times, companies need to develop the ability to rapidly evaluate ongoing changes in the environment and develop responses based on simple principles.

It needs to engage in creative and collaborative yet disciplined problem solving on the fly.

Organizations should team up and be well prepared and trained, this might take a long time after all! 

Can Innovation be a support for crisis management in organizations?

A huge plus is leadership innovation in understanding problems and errors, bias, anxiety and ways of approaching problems.

The primary qualities that help leaders and organizations remain resilient to change are fast, incremental and experimentation of new information and the ability to effectively manage short- and long-term change.

Remember, “those who can explore a fast-changing environment and do it agilely are winning”.

Companies need to promote innovation, innovation teams, innovation strategies and even innovation days. As innovation is an efficient solution to crisis. We think better when we are on survival mode- Think of your winning actions!

In a world suffering from Coronavirus, lot of services can be not affected and alternatives provided to overcome difficulties. An example of winning action to overcome the current crises could be:

  • Reduce stress and increase positive vibes as it increases productivity at workplace
  • Decreasing environmental effects and isolate emotional risk factors
  • Channel your energy on targets and goals through exploring new ways
  • Accessibility to working and learning from home opportunities.
  • Embedding a sense of trust in the community.
  • Higher savings with same outcomes.
  • Transform your business module, products, and sales force
  • Master the art of managing remote teams
  • Look for business opportunities and know abundancy is always out there
  • Don’t feel helpless or hopeless – isolate negative thinking pattern
  • Don’t panic remain steady and make balanced decisions
  • Allow creative thinking and sharing of ideas
  • Redesign your supply chain to ensure business continuity
  • Train and develop your employees
  • Learn to Objectively Evaluate the Threats and Consequences of any problem and learn to think of current and future improvements
  • Think of it as opportunity to strategize, plan, build resiliency, train, develop, coach, and to rebuilt your strategic themes and strategic organizational objectives

Problems will always occur but can they be seen as opportunities to learn, grow, improve, or adjust

This mindset will reduce the stress that usually accompanies any new problem. It will encourage growth and it’s self-perpetuating, means solving future problems will be easier to handle, forming a positive cycle of reinforcement.

This is why when facing a problem don’t stress out, live normally, eat normally and exercise. Those practices will increase in your body the secretion of Dopamine which has been Scientifically proven that it encourages us to act, innovate and adapt promptly.

It’s crazy out there!” It’s also misleading. Do not give up, stand up and fight!

Mahmoud Iskandarani
CEO & Managing Partner