succeeding in an unpredictable business world

International pop singer Madonna had a major hit song in the 1980’s titled "Material Girl" with catchy lyrics saying, “We are living in a material world.” Fast forward to today, and we are now living in a world that’s highly unpredictable. 

Our economic, political, and social environment is exceptionally volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. It has become increasingly difficult to develop strategies for success when every time you turn around there is another challenge that threatens your enterprise survival. 

One of the most effective methods you can employ to navigate in this unstable business climate is to take a B.O.L.D. Approach. This four-point framework will focus your strategic mindset on gaining the insight and critical skills you need to thrive.  

1. Business Strategy - Grow your organization with purpose and prosperity. 

Rethink your approach to planning. Stop engaging in strategic planning focused on fun, bonding events where you vision-quest about idealistic wishes for your future, resulting in ineffective plans and written reports that collect dust. 

Focus instead on grounding your planning efforts by gaining the information and insight you need to develop effective business strategies. Leverage the emerging opportunities available to you and minimize the risks that an uncertain business landscape creates for your enterprise. 

Those who thrive in an unstable environment focus on understanding the potential future of evolving trends. So what do you do now? Let go of old ideas. Coalesce your business strategies around innovation and adaption. 

Build your sustainable success on a viable future that is grounded in a full understanding of your situation, not on wishful thinking. Manage your transitions effectively by hiring more sophisticated talent to match your evolving needs. Consider how you can leverage new opportunities to enhance your operation and profitability. 

2. Opportunities - Uncover the potential in your market to achieve sales results. 

Effective strategic planning in turbulent times requires a deep assessment of your market opportunities. This environment is driven by significant market forces influencing your enterprise success and long-term potential. These market forces impact your business lifecycle and the on-going value of your product or service offerings to your consumers. You must fully understand the impact of the market forces determining your ability to survive and thrive. 

Staying close to your target market is crucial to your long-term success. But market needs, wants, and desires change over time. You must understand how your market is changing and why. To remain feasible, you need to determine what you need to change to meet those evolving market needs. 

There are 9 key market forces impacting most businesses today: shifting demographics, competitive actions, fluid economic conditions, unstable capital markets, governmental interference impacting regulations and reimbursement, technology evolution, workforce skills and capabilities—industry changes as organizations adapt to these forces and generational shifts. 

You have no control over these market forces. Yet you continually have to adapt and adjust your strategies to respond to them. 

3. Leadership - Lead with confidence and effectiveness. 

It takes many, many hours to master a skill or hone your expertise. Don’t expect to be an effective leader in the beginning. It takes time. Building your insight to effectively navigate stormy strategic waters will take time too. 

Asking the right questions is the foundation of an effective strategic mindset. Yet learning to ask the right questions is extremely difficult because most people only ask superficial questions that have easy answers. Asking challenging questions allows you to deepen your understanding of the impact of each market force and their influence on your long-term potential for success. 

Effective leaders in turbulent times are not afraid to listen to divergent perspectives. They understand that their ability to take corrective action before things go completely haywire requires candor from their teams and a full understanding of the market forces. 

Confident leaders use objective advisors to get to the truth and to push their teams. Look for real expertise that has proven results. Stay away from advisors offering strong sales hype and marketing sizzle. They can do lasting damage to your enterprise. 

4. Decision Making - Gain the clarity you need to thrive. 

Effective decision making in an uncertain and unstable world begins with a desire for clarity. Gaining clarity requires a complete and candid understanding of your situation. Truth gives you information. Well-researched information gives you insight. Insight gives you the clarity you need to set the right priorities and focus your team on the most critical activities impacting your success. 

Make sure you are not operating under a false set of assumptions that were correct at one time, but have not been updated to reflect your current situation. If your assumptions are wrong, your ability to make good decisions will be severely limited by your skewed viewpoint. 

It is critical that you reassess your assumptions about the future. Getting the right information for effective decision-making is essential. Look for more than superficial answers to the critical issues you face. Be willing to invest the time and money to bring in a fresh and different point of view to discover the truth. 

The value of taking a BOLD Approach?  

By taking a B.O.L.D. Approach, you will integrate an action plan for uncertainty into every facet of your strategic mindset. By asking challenging questions to understand your current and evolving situation, you will build your confidence that you are developing the business strategies to enhance your success. You will uncover the potential in your markets. You will be a more confident and effective leader. You will make better decisions. 

As a result, others will be more confident in following your lead. If you demand more of yourself and your team, they too will think more strategically, become more effective leaders, make better decisions and achieve results designed to create lasting success for your enterprise. 

So take action now. What is the first B.O.L.D. Approach step you will take to address the impact of uncertainty and volatility in your enterprise? 

About the author 

Jill Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting services, a highly accomplished speaker, and an award-winning management consultant. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted nearly $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.