Managing risk and uncertainty is a critical skill for corporate leaders in our constantly changing and evolving business environment. There has always been a certain level of uncertainty in most industries, but this decade is only three years old and we have already faced a global pandemic, war in Europe, and a very uncertain economy.
There is also an enormous wave of layoffs taking place across the technology sector creating additional fear for every innovative young startup. Techcrunch recently reported that there have been around 169,000 technology layoffs in 2023 alone.
What’s the best way to manage all this uncertainty? There are a few important strategies that can help companies chart a course through the storm. Here are a few that I believe are critical.
Embrace a flexible mindset: Accept that change and uncertainty are inevitable. Encourage adaptability and openness to new ideas among your team members. This sounds obvious, like the motivational posters you might see on an office wall, but it is a serious idea. Think about the way you hire, the flexibility of roles on offer, the training and career path you can develop.
How can flexibility be a benefit for your team as well as for the company? Greater flexibility and a genuine work/life balance are demanded by more employees since the pandemic so there is an opportunity to meet these requirements at the same time as creating more flexibility for the business.
Gather information and data: Stay informed about industry trends, competitors, and emerging technologies. This will help you make informed decisions and adapt to new situations. Why not start a blog or regularly start recording ideas and thoughts for YouTube? Knowing that you need to make a personal statement once a week on your blog will help you to focus on gathering research and ideas.
Don’t just read news from the sources you have always followed – look around the world and look outside your industry. What’s going on with your industry on the other side of the world? Where are the ideas coming from?
Scenario planning: Consider different possible future scenarios and develop contingency plans for each. This helps in being better prepared to handle unexpected events. It can feel a bit like a fire drill, but just think back to 2020. How did your company manage when overnight nobody was allowed to travel or go to the office?
You don’t need to plan for another pandemic, but do put some scenarios together for other forms of disruption. How could you cope? Can you create a framework with options so there is a basic plan when disaster strikes?
Foster a culture of innovation: Encourage your team to think creatively and experiment with new ideas. This will help you stay ahead of the competition and adapt to new challenges. Real innovation demands that you try a lot of ideas and quickly retire the ones that don’t work – you can never predict which idea will be the best one until you expose them to employees or customers.
Create a culture where ideas are rewarded, even if they don’t work. A regular stream of new ideas is the only way to find the good ones. Your next successful product might already be in the head of a junior team member.
Maintain clear communication: Keep your team informed about the company’s goals, plans, and any changes. This helps create a sense of stability and trust. Look at how badly many of the tech companies handled the recent layoffs – many people only found out when they could no longer login to their work applications.
Be open about the company vision and you can bring the team with you. If you need to let people go then help them find their next opportunity – just be open.
GigCX can be a an important strategy that helps with several of these approaches. It naturally promotes flexibility by allowing leaders to build a bench of flexible talent from anywhere in the world. It’s naturally innovative because it is focused on getting the job done – and that is exactly what so many corporate leaders need right now.
Let me know what you think. Feel free to leave a comment here or get in touch directly via my LinkedIn.