Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Is Uncertainty Problem or Opportunity

When business is for people uncertainty is an opportunity, when people are for business it’s a problem.

Uncertainty and ambiguity are a key challenge for business leaders today. In the past, many business leaders believed their organizations’ long-term goals could wait until they had dealt with the current crisis. In the current business environment with “VUCA” characteristics, this is no longer the case. The rate of change has accelerated, indicating that business leaders must learn how to strike a balance between managing complex issues today and predicting the uncertain issues of tomorrow. So is uncertainty the biggest problem in business today? And is it affecting business in setting long-term strategies and are forced to concentrate on short term goals? And further questions include - how can the soft signals of contextual changes be best determined? How do you structure information systems to deal with uncertainty - in the era of Digital?

When business is for people uncertainty is an opportunity, when people are for business, it’s a problem. This is where the mission of the business at the core is tested, how much the team is aligned to the mission is tested. Uncertainty could be an opportunity enabling to foresee possibilities and probabilities that might crop in our way of progress. As we all know the only "Certainty" or a "Constant" is "CHANGE." Business is only an extended part of our life and all businesses have to accept change to survive. Strategic planning is paramount but, in these uncertain times, this should go hand in hand with contingency planning around “what if” scenarios. Uncertainty is only certain and the best opportunity in business or any field. If there is no uncertainty then there will be a monopoly, in fact, anarchy. Uncertainty per se is not a problem, it poses a risk for those who have a fixed mindset and creates opportunities for those with a growth mindset. We can not predict anything beforehand but can imagine with many experiences involved in current or in the past. As uncertainties are a common occurrence in any walk of our progress, be it social, professional or personal life. We can make provision to meet any eventuality.

The way to effectively deal with uncertainty is to reduce it by getting information. Yes, the challenges, competition & complexities may be in on the increase but along with it there comes the increase in opportunity as well and in the form of demand. Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. The ability of companies to consume and make sense of the information that is available (and necessary) to make good decisions is becoming a nearly insurmountable challenge. The problem to be solved is to deal with this mountain of information with both technology and human know-how, then to convert this information into valuable knowledge in handling business uncertainty more effectively. That is why good strategic planning is based on good information about the customers, competition, internal capabilities, and costs. While there is always some remaining uncertainty, reducing the uncertainty, particularly if one broadly involves the organization, leads to better decisions / strategic plans and better implementation. This does not ensure success, but it does raise the probability of success. If uncertainty is the biggest problem for a company and it keeps them from running a business productively they should not be in business. There is no guarantee of success in business. Without a positive proactive approach, there is no positive result.

Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are useful and relevant to the organizationwhether that’s the number of new customers acquired in a month, units sold, phone calls made, the number of web visitors or any other measure. Monitoring KPIs on a regular basis should ensure an accurate picture of what’s happening in the business as well as giving you the chance to be flexible and make changes based on real information rather than assumption. Monitoring KPIs will enable the business to spot an opportunity or downturn and take action accordingly. Strategic planning, KPIs are all lagging indicators. In the current dynamic world, real time data (leading indicators) and empowered employees who can respond to challenges are key to success and not some central Head Office strategy making.

Uncertainty in the business or in any situation is a smoke cover for the opportunist to take the risk to advance in the direction of the goal. The business starts with simple values and when it starts growing, to maintain their standards and brand image etc., etc., they float with time and money leaving behind their value systems and they don't maintain the same simplicity. They forget long term planning, so when business people focus only on business and keep anticipating about future hurdles or complications then they need to worry even in uncertainties. The business plans should be long term. For most of organizations, we still do have contexts of relative certainty, while simultaneously having contexts reflecting both complexity and chaos. Each of these contexts requires a different management approach. The traditional scientific management theory still assumes relevance in contexts of predictability, yet complexity theory would appear to be more effective for dealing with emergence and uncertainty. A problem is often the lack of management understanding of how to apply complex adaptive systems theory in contexts of unpredictability. History has evidence of this.

Life is uncertain. We still have to get up every day and make the best of it. We plan for gloom we get gloom. Reach for the stars and fly. The business leaders and their team cannot afford to be unprepared for the challenging task of facing an uncertainty. The problem is not uncertainty rather it is unpreparedness towards the efficient handling of uncertainty. The task of business is to deal with the uncertainty while moving forward. The greatest indicator of success in the era of social technology will be an open mind control that let you go at the right time, the right place, in the right doses. Who leads the organizations must find within him/herself the emotional stability and greater safety because an open and global leadership first requires discipline, structure, constant effort. The uncertainty will be the new normality and the leader must act with speed but quietly, he/she will need stability, must be safe and aware of itself. The leader of the future is no longer the charismatic prophet capable of seducing the masses, but scientific guidance for individuals. Science has created the world where individuals play the role that was once entrusted to the community. For the leadership of the future is not enough natural talent. He/she must become aware of its own resources, to achieve behavioral strategies effectively and have a path of personal and professional improvement, a great preparation, vision, intuition, perseverance and the ability to work hard.


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