Last week I went to two business events that were focusing on the 100 days since the Brexit vote, the potential impact of Brexit and what businesses can do to mitigate the risks.
You would think that most of what was discussed would have been pretty negative, however there emerged some real pearls of wisdom which I’d like to share with you.
1. Although there is a lot of uncertainty around Brexit the worst thing you can do is not plan.
One hundred days on we have no more of an idea as to what the future holds as we did on the day of the result. This doesn’t mean however that we can’t plan. Identifying and prioritising (in order of likelihood) the key external forces that could affect your sector or market is a good place to start.
2. War games.
War games and scenario planning were the hot topic in the ‘Organisational Resilience’ session at the IoD Annual Convention which was aptly themed around ‘Thriving in a Changing World’. Scenario planning (or war games) is all about assessing the validity of your strategy in light of what may happen in the future. This approach allows senior managers to rehearse what they would do based on an optimistic, pessimistic or most likely view.
3. Organisational resilience – scanning the horizon is key.
Resilience is often defined as the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity. Adapting to change is a given in today’s world even without the political and economic turmoil that may result once article 50 is triggered, however change can be predicted, provided we are regularly scanning the horizon. For scans to work well they need to be externally focussed, be a continuous process and look ahead no more than ten years. A great place to start in my view is to look at the customers or your customers and try to anticipate what they might want in the future.
4. If the end result is going to be a Gold medal, everyone needs to be on the same page.
Dame Kelly Holmes was one of the most inspirational speakers I saw at the IoD Convention. What she said really struck a chord with me, not just as a keen runner but also as someone that believes wholeheartedly that leading a team without a vision is like trying to heard cats – people need to know where they are heading if you have any chance of getting to where you want to be.
5. Clear leadership, clear strategy, clear communication.
In being an inspirational leader you will take people on the journey with you, provided you know how you are going to get there and that you are able to share this with all of the stakeholders that you interact with. Make sure you have a vision and that you share it with staff, customers, suppliers, investors etc. Tell your employees how you are going to realise the vision - the strategy you are going to adopt and finally tell them what their role is in helping the organisation achieve its objectives.
Of course, we should always be trying to manage risk and create opportunities, but we can’t do that if we are not continually scanning the external environment and making judgement calls on what we see and how it might affect our businesses.
The political and economic upheaval that Brexit is likely to bring will disrupt the world as we know it. The key will be to spot the opportunities, create a strategy to take advantage of one or more of them and go for it.