Implementing Change Successfully - Plan to Prepare or Prepare to Fail
There are many external factors driving change in today's business markets. What if the inevitable happened? How flexible, agile and well prepared would you, your staff and your business be to adapt to a new way of working?
Bad news sells and generates many news articles attracting readers, listeners, debate, response and opinions being shared. Every minute of every day there seems to be someone on the radio, TV, social media, in the office or even on Zoom these days debating;
What if the worlds top scientists and Pharmaceutical companies don't find a vaccine for Coronavirus?
If the EU-Exit negotiators can't agree on say a unilateral trade agreement, what will Jan 2021 look like from a cross border trade perspective?
Will we see Donald Trump in a second term as President of the US and what will the impact be of his policies on world trade?
In the short term, we can only second guess whether these events become a reality, however,
As humans we tend to react based on our knowledge and learnings from our past experiences. The business decisions we make today and implement, effect our business results and performance tomorrow and in the future. So if one of the events above actually occurred, would you know, what you need to do?
Don't get caught out, "Future proof" your business.
To survive in business long term your organisation needs to be agile, responsive and adaptable to change. Therefore following these simple steps below may help you safeguard your business in the future.
To start with, pick 3 or 4 headline event changing Scenarios such as those at the top of this blog.
Then set time aside to carry out an External Environment Analysis. Assess, note down and review the major drivers of change which will effect your customers and their customers too, based on each scenario. Establish the impact of the key external market forces that will effect your business positively or negatively. Carry out through research, reading news articles, look up any facts and trends to substantiate any of the opinions given about what the likely impact would be.
Using the S.T.E.E.P. model process below will help.
Social drivers, i.e. impacts on the trends in population and demographic changes within your market, locally, regional, nationally or worldwide. Social driver changes will effect your customers habits but also your ability to recruit for the desired skills and knowledge to adapt and develop your business capabilities.
Technological; will technology advancement replace or increase the needs for your products or service? One of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic is its forced many businesses to accelerate and bring forward IT hardware, software and system purchases and development of online interaction with their customers. Great if you're are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon or an IT software consultant.
Economical drivers, if you export or input goods or raw material evaluate the effects of swings in currency exchange rates. Also determine what will be the impact and availability of finance, disposable income or business budgets to purchase your product or services.
Environmental drivers. The impact, benefits and implications on your business i.e. noise, pollution, waste or maybe your business adds benefits to the environment, such as being in renewable energy and the subsequent supply chain.
Political; Effect of new, planned or abolished legislation, government incentives and funding schemes, changes in policy, or ruling parties whom may open up or close markets opportunities overseas or in the UK. Particularly be aware of the ever changing trade tariff's too.
Based on your findings follow through Scenario Planning, as a team choose and then rate from most likely to least likely which event may happen.
Estimate the implications and impact on your business sales, growth or decline and any associated effects on business costs and staffing level requirements.
Create financial forecasts, predicting what the impact would be on your future revenues and how you would need to adjust resources accordingly.
Create a high level business plan and an appropriate action plan for each scenario which you could implement quickly if necessary.
Then review and start taking the key steps to future proof your business. If you highlight some quick wins which will mitigate risk, just implement them even if the above scenarios may or may not happen.
Finally monitor the news and measure key external indicators.
The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, it is to act with yesterday's logic – Peter Drucker (1974).
It's not easy working "ON" your business particularly when trying to surmise what might or might not happen, therefore worth considering obtaining insight and help from an external consultant.
Of note; it's also good practice to carry out this whole task at least once per year.
I hope this exercise will support you in gaining foresight, map trends and watch for warning signs of the likelihood of the scenarios coming to fruition and helps you be prepared and be ready for change.