After 6 weeks of lock down conversations with business owners, executives and founders as well as working on and with companies I’m directly involved in , I’ve been pondering the most common elements.
Certainty is easily in the top 3. Our ability to make decisions in the current environment has put a very clear focus around embracing the lack of certainty in planning for the future. There are exceptions of course and for many rapidly decreasing cash reserves is the most defined.
This is no longer a startup centred problem as multi billion dollar enterprises’ income dropped, in some cases, 95%+ in a matter of days.
Somewhat obvious you say but I’d contest it’s still not fully embraced in a large proportion of organisations and ventures.
Some approaches I’ve seen work well:
Shrink the steps
With so many elements constantly changing you can’t move as fast and as far without actively reviewing and adjusting to ensure you’re heading towards the original objective. Being more definitive around your assumptions and their key components allows you to more quickly check in on their validity and relevance as you execute.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
I always remember what they teach you in pilot training around handling a crisis in the air – make your radio call giving core details of your emergency and then focus purely on flying the aircraft. Why? Because the brain can shut down your auditory skills to prioritise those more useful to survive – known as inattentional deafness
Applying this phenomenon to a business crisis context I think there are many similarities. As we process the shock of such a massive shift in market conditions our ability to listen to and process all information can be significantly impacted.
Communicating regularly, clearly and concisely is really important to ensure everyone is aligned on their understanding of what needs to be done and their role in execution.
Many elements of the world around us personally and from a business perspective will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Communicating that to all and ensuring that they are comfortable with the reality is an important step to keeping people aligned and well.
This may also require adjusting processes and operational elements to support the change.
Dealing with Certainty in Uncertain times to me is much more about adjusting to embrace uncertainty as an operating element than it is to spend large amounts of effort trying to reduce it.