Leadership in Difficult Times

Today is more uncertain than yesterday. Today is more volatile than yesterday. Today you have to take more difficult decisions than yesterday. In short, we call this VUCAvolatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity.

VUCA is not new. But during times like this rightly it pops up again. Why? Because this is unprecedented. So many losses across the globe only happen during wars or pandemics like this. There are pandemics quite frequently, but not as severe as this one.

Supply chains broken, kids not able to go to school, civic life almost shut down, airlines stranded, many industries almost completely locked down, and everybody is afraid and quite confused.

Good news: Not so much. What we do know is that it will go away. The question is when? And until then, what will be the price we pay?

Bad news: Perhaps not as another pandemic of this severity, but this kind of super-complex and unpredictable situations will happen soon again, due to climate, politics, migrations, wars, and other reasons. You’d better be prepared

As the crisis proved once again, digital is inevitable. Working from home, e-commerce, videoconferencing, supply chain integration, streaming services, basic communication, and much more rely on the digital infrastructure.

To be able to shine you have to be much more relevant and much more precise than ever before. Targeting, digital marketing, integration of flows, basically any activity you do must be close to perfect, so it hits the target, because you may not have a second chance.

 

 

If you have any question on digital transformation feel free to get in touch with our experts. We have helped and guided many great companies to stay great or become even greater. Digital is inevitable and we are here to guide you along your journey.

Another interesting outcome of this crisis is the proof for “enterprise agility”. Most companies and many leaders (business or state) behave too hesitantly and far too slowly to react to the crisis. This kind of environment requires agile thinking and agile acting. The times will hopefully get better from a pandemic perspective, but from a business and competition perspective it will get even worse and more complex and more unpredictable. Agile is the sole answer to this level of uncertainty.

Enterprise agility is a huge cultural transformation. As most of the leaders and professionals are educated and experienced in industrial age processes they have over time developed habits very hard to crack. But there is good news. It’s possible to transform and the new generation loves it.

We have helped many great companies to shine and thrive by changing or adopting their culture to the needs of the 21st century. You should be among those companies as well. This is not easy, it’s not an overnight thing, it will take some time. So, patience and persistence are paramount. This is easier said than done. We can help you stay on track…

Another important issue is about strategic thinking. Most organizations and their leaders have strategies in place, however very few of them are able to execute them effectively. In addition, very few are able to change their strategies quickly when necessary and think of scenarios or alternatives. Everybody knows the importance of “Plan B” and some have optional budgets in place, but not more than that.

Were you prepared for this kind of pandemic? For most of the audience reading this article the answer might be “no”. It’s difficult. You can’t be prepared for all cases. But you can work on various scenarios. What will happen if the pandemic takes longer than anticipated? What if people stay on e-commerce and prefer not to go back to shops? Will you be able to change your business configuration, your business model, your suppliers? If yes, how fast will you be able to decide which way to go and how fast you will be able to run in the new direction? Very difficult questions, very difficult answers, very difficult decisions…

Machiavelli said that for war times you have to prepare during peace times. Now it’s too late. The toilet paper producers with the biggest capacity are the ones capturing the excess needs of the crisis stockpiling business.

Are you prepared? Who are your competitors? Who are the rising stars? Any interesting startups on the horizon? Who is strong in cash, who struggles? Could you, or even should you, acquire them? When and how will you analyze all these questions and find the right answers?

If you do these exercises under stress, the outcomes will not be satisfactory. You need peace of mind to be more thoughtful, to be more comprehensive, to have more time and options to consider.

When will this pandemic end? What will be the impact on the economy, on your business? How will the world and the economy look after the pandemic is over? Are you prepared for that? Can you influence it? Can you contribute to it? Do you have scenarios prepared? Do you have simulations and a view of possible outcomes? Do you have alternative plans or budgets?

Again, it’s much better to have them ready before a crisis occurs, rather than during the crisis. These days you are likely to be busy with more important or more urgent stuff, and may not have the resources to answer all these important questions and prepare various plans, scenarios, simulate budgets, etc.

When it comes to strategy, we would also recommend you review another article we have compiled. Strategy is about winning, winning is about outperforming your competition. In which area you would like to or have to outcompete your contenders? Is it customer excellence? Or operational excellence? Or business model innovation? You can’t be superb in all of them. Therefore, you need to choose your battleground wisely.

In another article we also talked about true digital transformation and the impact on various industries, such as education, healthcare, retail and such. There is not an industry on earth which will not have been impacted by digital disruption; either you shape your course actively, or you will be shaped by others. Obviously, the latter must not be in your interest. So, seize the opportunity and take the lead to design and control your digital future yourself.

We are here to help. Good luck. And stay in touch

Photos: Unsplash, Twitter

 

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