The Future is Uncertain……so what’s new?

Forecasting is a risky business and forecasting the future is particularly challenging, but as leaders we have no choice. As we look out to the future the start of 2017 heralds the most uncertain business strategic landscape for many a year. A quick review of the predications made at this time last year will confirm that listening to ‘experts’, in whatever field, provides no real guarantee of success. The experts forecasts at the start of this year are full of ‘who could have predicted….‘ comments and rationalisations on their performance last year but if you are leading a business, organisation, function or a team then building some picture of the future is a basic requirement of leadership and cannot be avoided.

Last year had some interesting lessons for us, all which can be used to help shape our thinking for this year and beyond. In my blog ‘University of Life Tutorial’ I suggested you run a short leadership team tutorial to extract the most value possible from recent reality. These insights will be unique to you and your organisation, and are invaluable when entering your strategic planning cycle. Casting your enquiring mind a little wider will also reveal some interesting insights. James Sproule, the Chief Economist and Director of Policy for the Institute of Directors, has produced his view of what 2016 revealed and what he considers is in store for 2017 – check out his blog here.  There are of course many others, including many of my colleagues in the consultancy profession who, despite the perils to reputation of predicting the future, are boldly taking the gamble and laying down their perspective of the future challenges facing organisations in the coming months and years.

Forgive me, but I will resist the temptation to add my thoughts to the increasing pile of guesswork and conjecture. I resist not from fear of getting it wrong, heaven forbid, this after all how I learn and why my years of experience are so valuable! No, my primary interest is not in predicting the future, but in helping my clients’ build robust and resilient strategic and operational plans and then helping them execute these plans in an agile and effective way.

One thing I can say with some certainty is that for organisations here in the UK is that “Brexit means……well what precisely?” No one really knows but that does not absolve leaders from their responsibility to work it out. The CBI, who represent over 190 thousand UK businesses, have produced a characteristically comprehensive (120 page) report detailing their perspective of how to make a success of Brexit. This gives some interesting insights into the implications for various sectors of the economy for those that need a starting point for reflection. But that’s all it can ever be, a starting point.

What the future holds for your organisation is up to you and your leadership teams’ vision and ambition. Brexit will be both a challenge and an opportunity, and I have developed a Brexit Wargame as a strategic planning tool to help leaders and their teams to work out how best to optimise their response. If you are interested in learning more about this potential enhancement to your strategic planning process then please contact me and we can talk.

As Abraham Lincoln famously said ‘The best way to predict the future, is to create it’ and in this way the future is very predictable indeed…..

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