The old curse, “May you live in interesting times” is not only upon us but has been acting quite significantly on us in the recent past.

Absolutely no benchmark can persuade me that there is certainty and predictability in the future beyond uncertainty and unpredictability.

Well, what does this mean for companies?

Whilst a lot of organizations continue to shore up their core business, the bad or good news (depending on your vision), is that the future lies in continuous reinvention.

Think about the revolutions we are seeing coming at us like comets from outer space. Digitization, the deluge of data, the new age workforce, the borderless world, the redefining of political alliances, the economic crunch, the external threat of the unknown, etc. I can go on and on as I am sure you could too.

How do leaders at the top overseeing strategy compute all of this and continue to grow exponentially for their stakeholders? Obviously, the mediocre ones will try to go with the tried and tested. The dynamic ones realize that uncertainty presents an opportunity to be bold and reimagine the future of their organization.

There are plenty of organizations that are reinventing themselves via the way they operate the hybrid model, recruiting differently, changing their operating model, etc.

The key though is that whilst the spark may come from the top, it cannot succeed if everyone in the organization is not on board heading toward a unified goal and in a synchronized way.

According to current experts, the near future will entail seventy-seven million jobs becoming defunct and disappearing and one hundred and thirty-three million new ones will be created. So, the doom and gloom whilst true are not as dramatic if one looks at the whole scenario holistically. Thus, by corollary, leaders are predicting that in the very near future, their revenues will come from sources that have yet to be imagined, using technologies that have yet to be invented, and dealing with problems that are yet to reveal themselves to us.

It is time for organizations to re-examine the ‘what’ in their businesses wherein one looks beyond the traditional product and services and perhaps consider organic growth.

Here are a few seeds that need planting.

Try to move away from being directive and prescriptive in this new journey. Help your people learn to craft the ‘how’ whilst the leaders play the role of being coaches. If you buy or groom the right talent, they will undoubtedly be capable of crafting this future; after all, they are the experts. Your key role is to ensure that the vision that you have envisaged continues to be the common denominator in the pursuit of the ‘how’. Keep your eye on the transformational structure to ensure that the direction is towards the true north.

With plenty of businesses failing due to their inflexibility and the potential to buy into diversification is quite apt. Whilst the expertise might not necessarily exist within your current setup, consider taking on external expertise and learning whilst you expand with more new businesses. Learning to sail in calm waters never made for a great sailor. Stretch your learning to master change and uncertainty. Learn to fail faster than your competition and gain insights at speeds never imagined of what works to implement at the speed of agility and flexibility.

Great leaders are no longer bound by the short-termism of their deliverables. They are willing to challenge the status quo and bring the other leaders, managers, and the board on this journey. The prudence of managing the bottom line is finely balanced by the need to plan and execute a long-term strategy thus safeguarding the future. Show them the dream and learn to dream together in making it a reality.

The days of traditional workforce planning are way past their sell-by date. Start to understand how to bridge the skill gap. Plan now for an uncertain future. How? By listening, learning, reading, and talking to those in the know. Once you understand the needs, recruit wisely even if you have to carry the cost for a short period whilst you realign the organization. Evaluate those that you have internally and be purposeful about investing in their development by upskilling them and if need be, reskilling them. Nothing buys you more engagement than a workforce that is continuously given a chance to grow and fulfill their ambitions.

The new workforce in terms of the Millennials and Gen Z is a different breed altogether. Their priorities are more aligned with issues that go way beyond the organization. Aspects of social responsibility, the environment, the judiciousness of how business is conducted, etc. play big in their minds. This skews their decisions in terms of joining or not, staying or not and even buying your products and services or not. Thus, you can longer be playing in a field whereby you dictate the terms completely. Ignoring all the different stakeholders and their needs and wants is the beginning of the end.  

A client of mine once contacted me for a meeting with a view to helping them achieve more. When I eventually went in, I was amazed to see that it was a highly successful company and a market leader. His idea of bringing me on board was to not rest on their laurels but to stay ahead of the game and identify areas for growth. Very few expand their strategies beyond the tried and tested or tinker with an already successful model. The kind of conversations we had, the thinking dimensions, and strategy implementation we undertook took the industry by surprise and forced the rest to continuously play catch-up and rethink their approach.

As the adage goes, falling in love is easy but staying in love is harder. Getting to the top is easy, thus staying up there is harder.

My advice is to transform continuously, or you will morph into dodoism.

Do you even remember the dodo?


Abdulhussain Tejani

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