My friend Brad Shorr (Brad Shorr) came up with an interesting idea a couple of weeks ago. Let three bloggers riff on the same topic for a while and see what happens. We picked a topic near and dear to all of your hearts (and wallets) – BUSINESS UNCERTAINTY.
Kay Plantes knows a LOT about business model innovation. How does she see uncertainty?
Fred Schlegel has a marketing mindset. What opportunities does he see in uncertainty?
Finally, I spend a lot of client time thinking about the skills of emerging leaders. Why might uncertainty be good for them?
Times are uncertain – what a great time to be a leader!
OK, the economy is in the dumper. Healthcare is up for grabs. Chinese manufacturers are taking over your industry. And your bank is cutting your line of credit.
Brutal facts? Absolutely!
So now what do you do? Well, dear friends, you do what leaders throughout time have done. You spend some time and think about some “no regrets” moves. You spend some time and think about options you might “buy.” And you think about some possibilities of bold moves. The bottom line is that during uncertain times you stop acting out of habit and take the time to THINK! I have eight skills for you to develop to improve your leadership thinking skills. Here are four; the other four will come in a few days.
THINK about observing : You can clearly see the problems facing your organization; can you see the opportunities that comes along with the problems? If you and all of your competitors are facing the same decline in sales, can you see a new value promise? What clues are on the horizon that inform your thinking about the structure of your business model?
THINK about imagining: The heart of strategy is to “do things differently or to do different things” for competitive advantage. The key word is “different” and the key skill is imagining. All of us had great imaginations as a small child (remember how you could use a big cardboard box to make a “fort”?) but many of us have neglected that skill while we searched for the perfect answer. It’s time to get back in touch with that little kid in the back of your mind.
THINK about challenging: Does uncertainty seem especially frightening because some of your assumptions are failing? Maybe it’s time to challenge all of your strategic assumptions. What assumptions are you holding about customer loyalty? What assumptions are you holding about your profit model? Your competitors will challenge all of your assumptions – shouldn’t you?
THINK about reflecting: Do you take the time to sit back and consider you marketing message and business model during these uncertain times? Or are you too darn busy doing “something” because activity feels good. (Be honest, does thinking look like work in your organization? If you’re like many others, you opt to “look busy” rather than get caught in quiet contemplation.)
Four more leadership thinking skills to come in the next post. In the meantime, tell me how you see leaders using uncertainty to get ahead. Louis Pasteur, the famous French biologist, was once accused of being lucky. His response was that he was lucky – but he was prepared for it. Are you?