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When the future is unreadable – Leadership

- By Dwaipayan, 29 April 2021 | 3 MIN READ


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In difficult times and strong uncertainty, how can you manage other than simply coping with the situation? One solution demands accepting the inevitable nature of uncertainty: the challenge does not consist in limiting it, but in managing it.

Today we’re going through a crisis, so should we give up on making long-term projections when the future is unreadable? Working out a vision for the company and making structuring choices is truly at the heart of a leader’s mission. With no clear target, it becomes hard to mobilize the teams, allocate the resources, or adopt a distinctive positioning on the market. Yet, what we see is that many companies are performing extraordinarily in such trying times taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation. Technological disruptions have dramatically impacted all segments, with phenomena of acceleration and convergence.

Planning over the long term seems not only tricky but almost perilous. What would happen if the company committed its resources to engage in a vision that could suddenly prove impossible because of an unexpected shocker? What if the market became infatuated with a different technology from the one that was set to stand out?

In the context of what we call “VUCA” (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity), wouldn’t the new role of a manager/leader be that of adopting a more practical and more supple approach? To mobilize on achievable projects rather than on uncertain visions?

The markets are changing to continuously observe the market and constantly adapt, rather than planning for the long term? Such a posture effectively seems to fit the current economic environment better. Yet, there is a real risk of getting locked into a permanent cycle of tactical adjustments, and of losing any form of ability to impact on a future in the making.

An alternative lies in the ability not to give up on preparing for the future, but at becoming less vulnerable to the unforeseen by actively managing the uncertainty that surrounds any vision.

 

Working on multiple scenarios, challenging the hypotheses that underline our strategies, regularly reviewing their relevance, driving several time perspectives in parallel, Improvise and optimize are few exercises that a leader should religiously believe and practice.

 

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