The 2008 financial crisis has not abated but rather morphed into a new set of uncertainties. Clients are demanding to know where Europe’s sovereign debt crisis may lead and how to cope with unprecedented volatility in markets. European leadership is severely challenged by a level of debt insupportable in Cypress, Greece, Italy and Spain, and France is now slowing down under the Hollande regime. The unwillingness on the part of populations to accept austerity measures and find ways to grow out of debt appears to present a conundrum that is difficult to solve. It is still not evident whether Europe can get out of its own way and if it does not, reverberations could profoundly affect the world economy for some time. Meanwhile, developed country use of quantitative easing may mean competitive currency devaluation with attendant impacts on assets of all kinds.
These conditions demand scenario thinking. What is the range of plausible outcome for which you should prepare? Are you ready to act on the implications of this thinking? Best Partners believes you must apply four core principles in developing strategy, whether corporate or personal:
- Clarify the intention.
What are we really trying to do? Are we all clear about it?
Clarity within the organization is required for efficient operation. Clarity breeds purposefulness, relevance and connection. People long to know what to do, and why they are doing it, but also to help them understand what not to do. Scenario-building and other tools can help leaders clarify vision, strategies, goals and objectives – for themselves as well as for the broader organization.
- Define the sacred.
What is most important to us? We all hold to this.
What are the values and principles that define the organization’s core beliefs, from which it will not depart Research into successful companies has determined that visionary companies, clear about their core values, will be the most profitable over time. What are the beliefs and commitments that truly underlie the organization’s behavior? Is the company expressing its own “sacred” at all levels?
- Understand the commitment.
What is required to deliver on these ideas?
What is required to ensure success? Clarity and core values will be fruitless without the necessary resources committed to a given objective. Leadership must also acknowledge resource limits and focus efforts so that the pursuit of too many objectives is not an obstacle to achieving the most important few.
- Act to be!
How shall I behave in support of these commitments?
Because our behavior will influence the dynamics around us, we help define our future. We must focus on own day-to-day behaviors, knowing that they influence colleagues, our team, the organization. As you behave, so will you become. In order to lead change, people must demonstrate their capacity to change their own behaviors.
Applying these principles may involve scenario thinking to engage your organization in deeper discussion of what could happen and what needs to be done to prepare. Scenarios help structure the most important uncertainties to identify options to consider. This clarifies intention and promotes a common framework for understanding what commitments are required. This strategic conversation will promote closer teamwork, efficiency and a more competitive business culture.
With nearly 20 years of experience in scenario-to-strategy development for clients across a wide range of industries, Eric Best offers a unique engagement style. His approach has been credited with delivering great monetary value ($1.2 billion to an investment bank) and transforming organizational initiatives (altering the approach to global IT). More recently he helped a major European holding company identify the most important options to consider in light of Europe’s current crisis.
Contact us to explore how we can help you develop a plan of action for whatever may come. Eric Best can be available for direct executive coaching on macro strategic matters or organizational challenges. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-225-5030 for to discuss the engagement that will work best for you or your organization.