Leading With Change + Innovation

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“If you really want to know about business, you should refer to Scott Steinberg.” -Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group

How to Future-Proof Your Business Against COVID-19

As business leaders are aware, COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus) is currently disrupting countless organizations – and radically reshaping the business world as we speak. But at the same time, it’s also causing firms in every field to rethink how they operate, and creating the greatest opportunity for you to grow your business that any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Here, we wanted to share a few simple tips on how you can survive and thrive in uncertain times based on our new book Think Like a Futurist. The more you put them to work in your business, the more you’ll bounce back stronger and more resilient than ever from 2020 – the year of endless surprises!

To begin with, it’s important to note: Uncertainty will be the only certainty that you can count on going forward. But while negative events can happen outside of control, it pays to remember that we all have the ability to choose how we handle the challenges that come our way. And the good news is that a few simple shifts in strategy and thinking are all that it takes to safeguard ourselves against the unexpected – and rebound from any setbacks we encounter. So here are three tips that you can use to future-proof yourself and your business, no matter what tomorrow brings.

Tip #1 – remember that time is your most valuable asset. The most successful individuals and businesses value their time like money. Moreover, they also recognize that there  are many ways to grow and lay the groundwork for long-term success, no matter what challenges they face in the immediate. That’s why today’s top leaders use times like these to optimize and streamline their operating procedures, rethink their strategic plan – and, most importantly, reinvest in themselves.

Wondering where to focus your efforts on a day-to-day basis if your time and resources are limited? Start by determining which activities create the highest value for your organization – then double down on them. You can do this by asking yourself three questions:

  • Is engaging in this activity bringing me one or more steps closer to completing a major goal or task?
  • How does performing this activity help me boost the bottom line, and/or create additional opportunities for my organization?
  • What resources, insights, and capabilities does my business gain from pursuing this effort, and how adaptable are they to helping our organization meet other needs or demands?

Tip #2 – remember that flexibility is the essence of future-proofing. As we’ve recently seen, unexpected events can render even the best-laid plans irrelevant. Luckily, you don’t need to be a genius to innovate your way through these types of situations – just a little bit more clever and ingenious instead. So in addition to considering how you can rework or reposition existing resources or solutions to better meet changing customer needs or speak to new audiences if needed? To make sure you’re staying flexible, and getting the most out of every initiative that you decide to pursue, be sure to ask yourself three more questions as you consider where to apply your time, energy, and effort as well. Specifically:

  • Financial gains aside, how can you always ensure that you’re finding ways to win with every opportunity you chase – such as by gaining new capabilities, insights, and resources that can be applied to other business ventures?
  • How readily can you repurpose tools, technologies, and insights gained from completing them in new and novel ways if needed – or use them to quickly pivot to new opportunities?
  • How well – and how quickly – can resources and learnings garnered from your efforts in any given area translate to other contexts, industries, or areas of business opportunity?

Tip #3 – always think like a futurist. Remember: futurists aren’t psychic, and we don’t actually predict the future for a living. Rather, we study the state of current markets and trends and create problem-solving exercises based on likely scenarios and events. The reason for this being that it’s our goal to challenge clients to ask themselves an important question: what if?

Engaging in these exercises not only helps our partners plan ahead and develop winning strategies. It also helps them stockpile the tools and resources they need today to get ahead in tomorrow’s marketplace.

Happily, you can do the same by simulating and role-playing through similar exercises. Consider: where will your industry be headed in three, five, or ten years? Then consider:

  • What trends are likeliest to impact it – and to what extent?
  • How will customer needs and habits change as a result?
  • And which kinds of business models will rise and fall based on these shifts?

Once you’ve created a working model of what the future may look like, work backwards and ask yourself: what do we need to do as a business to successfully bridge the gap from here to there. And then start steering your efforts in that direction.

As you can see, while we can’t always say for certain what the future will bring? We always have the ability to steer the future towards more positive outcomes. After all, even when unforeseen disaster strikes, you can always learn from every circumstance and pivot accordingly. Yes, it’s true – we live in extraordinary and eventful times. But again, you don’t have to be psychic to see what’s coming around the corner. A little resourcefulness is all it often takes to successfully stay one step ahead of the curve.

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