“The best-designed schemes for ‘mice and’ men / Gang aft a-gley,” wrote the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Even the finest, most thoughtful plans sometimes have to be set aside for reasons beyond your control.
In times of uncertainty, having flexibility is one of the most important features of any business.
With a willingness to adjust plans, divert from the original strategy and make small or large turns, your business can be more resilient during storms.
If your business is facing uncertainty and the way forward is unclear, you can add more flexibility to your plans, projects and strategy to help you get through it.
How to make your business flexible under uncertainty
Accept what you need to postpone or change.
If the landscape in which your business exists has suddenly changed, you also need to make changes in your organization. This is especially true if you need to tighten budgets and make sure it is used in the places with the highest returns.
Take a look at all the projects in your pipeline and assess what really needs to be prioritized right now, what can be postponed, and what can be discarded.
Encourage every department in your company to ask:
- Is this now the best time for the projects we focus on?
- Do we need to adjust our content and communication to deliver the most value to our audience?
- Is our budget in the right place, or do we need to change allocations?
- Would team members offer the most value working with different priorities?
- What revolutions should we make?
If your business is experiencing higher churn levels or lower profits, you may also need to reassess some goals in times of prosperity or at least adjust expectations.
Find out where your focus is most valuable.
Once you have re-evaluated the projects that your company is working on, it is time to look at your own to-do list.
Ask yourself: where can I add the most value with an hour, a day, a week or a month of focus?
Even if you can not predict the future, you can think about what is the most valuable way to spend your time right now. Make sure your agenda is tailored to the tasks that matter most instead of the busy work that has landed on your desk.
Maintain transparency with your team.
When your business or industry is going through a turbulence, it is more crucial than ever to maintain strong communication with your team.
To maintain the confidence that is essential to a focused and happy team, make sure management is honest and transparent about where your business stands right now, key goals for the coming period, and what the current challenges are.
A transparent and committed team is essential for a resilient company that can endure times of change.
Embrace different work styles.
Building a resilient and flexible business requires a willingness to do things differently than you have done before. You may need to embrace new ways of working instead of stubbornly saying “but that’s how we’ve always done things.”
This may include adapting to different work styles, such as teleworking – which may even be a necessity for many companies. To help your team adapt to teleworking, think about team policies you can put in place to encourage better focus, well-being and productivity.
These may include:
- Introduction to remote-friendly video calling apps
- Adoption of a company-wide communication tool such as Slack
- Schedule external meetings to catch up with your team and share information
- Encourage team members to focus on their mental health and well-being
Reinforce the foundation.
If your business is less busy with new leads and projects, this is a good time to focus on strengthening the foundation so you are in the best position when things start to pick up again.
Look at the important tasks that are often overlooked, e.g. Improving contact management processes or introducing automated workflows to make your team more efficient.
You can also use this as a time to look at your tech stack and identify weaknesses and areas for improvement.
Some questions to help optimize your tech stack include:
- Which apps do we pay for that do not add value?
- Can certain apps be replaced by free tools?
- Do we have any overlapping tools?
- Where are the opportunities to integrate data between apps to increase productivity?
Meeting times of uncertainty is challenging for any business, but the right amount of flexibility and resilience can help your organization cope with the storm.