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Blog : How can business leaders plan a strategy amid economic uncertainty?

Blog

How can business leaders plan a strategy amid economic uncertainty?


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Jo Harley, Managing Director of Purple Cubed, on planning and goal setting amid economic uncertainty.

Due to the prevailing VUCA climate (one of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), it is increasingly more difficult to plan in the longer term. And it’s easy to use VUCA as an excuse to dismiss planning for the long term altogether. Whilst it’s unlikely that a detailed five year planning document is practical or motivating, it is still essential for successful businesses to have a clear and communicated strategy in place. It’s important to know where you’re headed as a business and how you’re likely to get there. However, it is essential to remain alert and flexible to pre-empt and act proactively towards market forces and other changes. Today’s strategy requires a careful balance of long-term vision with short term action.

If nothing else, the basis of a good strategy in periods of uncertainty is keeping it simple and being open to change along the way. Here are our three recommendations:

  1. Vision: Have an overall vision that people understand how they contribute to and use this to formulate short and medium term goals. For example Google’s mission is ‘to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ All their people are working in some way towards this, if the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ change it’s OK, leaders should be open to adjustment as long as the outcome supports the overall mission and is profitable.
  2. Talent: As supported by research we’ve recently conducted, businesses will always need talented people to succeed; having the right people, doing the right things, exceeding expectations enthusiastically. Having a ‘people plan’ and a distinctive culture in place will enable people to thrive and grow within the organisation, ideally everyone should be working at their full potential towards clear personal goals. If people aren’t supporting the company values and culture they should consider working elsewhere.
  3. Simplify: Concentrate on core strengths. In the current climate MD of Cadbury India, Manu Anaud, believes that “only products that provide more value or innovate will work” be careful before diversifying and ensure there is commercial value in any new offering. In the hospitality industry there have been a wave of high successful street chains with one or two offerings and doing them really well, Byron Burgers, Lobster and Burger and Bubbledogs are all excellent examples.
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