Arash Arabi (main photo) is the author of The Wise Enterprise and CEO of Sprint Agile, which uses an empirical approach to help businesses move from opinion-based decision making to evidence-based decision making. In this guest post, Arabi offer his top tips to survive and thrive in these crazy Times…
Today we live in the age of uncertainty. In the past few years exponential change has been happening simultaneously on multiple tracks. Technological advancements, a constantly shifting job market, globalisation, climate change, regulatory and compliance changes, evolutions in how marketing and advertising are performed, ubiquitous computing, social media, and personal lifestyle transformations are just some of the examples of factors causing change and unpredictability today.
To make things even worse, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in unprecedented levels of disruptions to the economic landscape, the customer behaviours, ways of working, and business in general. The U.S. Economic Policy Uncertainty Index has been at its all-time high multiple times since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to thrive in this age of uncertainty organisations need to follow 4 golden rules.
1. Apply systems thinking
I am sure you have heard many stories of decisions that felt sensible at the time of making resulting negative unforeseen consequences because the decision makers could not see the bigger picture. To minimise this, the decision maker needs to become competent in a discipline called systems thinking.
Systems thinking is a holistic approach to problem solving. Systems thinkers look at the big picture and consider the broader ecosystem that their subject is part of (hence the name systems thinking). To be a more effective systems thinker a leader needs to ask these questions when making decisions:
- Why do we want to solve this problem? What is the end outcome we are after?
- What is the broader ecosystem that our subject is part of? How does the subject interact with the broader system? Let’s look at the bigger picture.
- What is the future price we may have to pay across time and space because of this decision?
- The easiest solution is often the wrong solution. What are some scenarios that may play out because of this decision?
2. Invest in improving emotional intelligence:
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognise your own emotions and those of others. And to be able to manage and influence your own emotions and those of others. Mastering emotions will thus help you become a force of inspiration, especially in times of uncertainty.
Emotional intelligence is one of the best predictors of performance for professionals. People with high levels of emotional Intelligence work more effectively with other people as they are in control of their own emotions and can influence the emotions of others.
3. Appoint people skilled in leadership to positions of authority
Leadership is a skill. It is not a position. Anyone can be a great leader irrespective of their rank. I may improve my leadership skills and choose to lead even though I am not in a position of authority. Or I may be in a position of authority but not have the skills to lead.
Most businesses are governed by hierarchical structures. It is quite common for people to be appointed to positions of authority in these hierarchies not based on their leadership skills but based on their previous experience in similar roles or their political influence.
People skilled at the art of leadership are capable of creating environments where people can be at their best. So, to thrive in the age of uncertainty organisations need to make sure people at the top are skilled at leadership. It is important to note a hierarchy with a “leader” at the top will be highly functional while a hierarchy led by someone who is not a leader will be highly dysfunctional.
4. Create an environment of proactive creativity, collaboration, and innovation
A business that wants to be agile and thrive in the age of uncertainty needs to have teams that comes up with creative ideas proactively, collaborate effectively, and innovate on regular basis. One way you could promote creativity in your business is to run ideation sessions regularly.
In these ideation workshops we need to create a safe space for our teams to come up with absurd and impossible ideas. No idea is wrong, and no one is allowed to criticise anyone. In ideation sessions no one is allowed to say “but that’s not going to work”, the only feedback allowed is constructive feedback. If you think something is not going to work, you are only allowed to say how to make it work.
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