Uncertainty is like the weather. It's always there, part of the atmosphere, and a condition over which individuals and organizations have very little control. The severity of uncertainty, like the severity of the weather, can rise and fall. At the moment, around the world, CEOs are operating under a series of severe uncertainty alerts.
Organizations should be inclined toward action. As a baseline, companies must strive to be fit for growth. This can be done by aligning costs with priorities and strategy, investing in varied capabilities, and using traditional and digital levers to execute.
They must regularly engage in scenario planning with an array of options. They must build the capacity to be agile. They must learn to become more resilient to withstand strong external forces and quickly recover from setbacks.
What story will people tell about your organization over the next ten years? Will they celebrate an enthusiastic innovator that thrived by adapting workforce skills and ways of working to the demands of the new economy? Or will they blame poor financial or operational results, unhappy employees, and community disruption on a short-sighted or delayed talent strategy?
The pace and scale that technology disrupts is a social, political and business challenge. Employers are best placed to make a positive societal impact, for example, by upgrading the abilities of their employees and equipping them with new skills. Employers will also reap the greatest benefit if they can successfully transform the workforce in this way.
Talent is the largest barrier to the successful implementation of new strategies.
Many leading businesses realize that it is quicker and more financially prudent to look internally and develop the talent they already have. Yet only a third of global executives report that their organizations have launched any new reskilling programs.
Identify your driving forces: the big shifts in society, economics, technology and politics in the future and see how it will affect your company.
Identify your critical uncertainties: pick 1-2 of the driving forces (with the most impact).
Develop a range of plausible scenarios: Form a kind of matrix with your two critical uncertainties as axis and depending on what direction each of the uncertainties will take, you are now able to draw four possible scenarios for the future.
Discuss the implications: discuss the various implications and impacts of each scenario and start to reconsider your strategy: set your mission and your goals while taking into account every scenario.
Don't fall into the trap is to be paralyzed by the multitude of possibilities. Keep it simple and focus on two major uncertainties.
Don't believe that you have to choose one particular scenario and build your strategy around it. Scenario planning is not about choosing just one option for the future but rather dealing with all of the possible outcomes to develop a strategy that will stand the test of all scenarios.
When developing your different scenarios, try to not look at the short term. Do not hesitate to look far ahead, anticipating what the market and competitors are going to be over the next years.
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