In these times of global turbulence and uncertainty, we are all going through unchartered waters. In our view, there are 5 areas of focus that are imperative for Managers facing uncertain environments. These are:
- Have flexible and adaptable goals
- Act quickly and decisively
- Focus on what really matters
- Ensure you have reliable and timely information
- Take all stakeholders with you
To assist you in developing strategies that are relevant and appropriate for your business at this time, we have compiled a brief list of critical questions in each area of focus that may be helpful to you and your team.
1. Have flexible and adaptable goals
a. How do you know that everyone understands where you are going and is committed to how you plan to get there?
b. Is what you are currently doing making, saving or losing you money?
c. Have you identified what would ‘trigger’ a change in direction?
d. Are you ‘going with the crowd’ or charting your own course?
e. Are you challenging everything – current assumptions, biases, conventional wisdom, sacred cows?
2. Act quickly and decisively
a. Do you have the right people in the right roles?
b. Do you have a decision making framework that prevents inertia?
c. How quickly are you identifying and acting on critical issues?
d. How frequently are you monitoring the impact of your decisions?
e. Are you prepared to change previously taken decisions quickly and in mid-stream?
3. Focus on what really matters
a. Have you identified the real drivers of performance and cost in the business?
b. Are you focusing on the 20% of customers that account for 80% of the revenue, and the 20% of inventories that account for 80% of sales?
c. Have you agreed no more than 5 top priorities that are both important and urgent? Do these priorities focus on root cause not symptoms?
d. Are you managing all elements of working capital effectively to maximise generation of cash?
e. Have you reviewed current work practices and eliminated or reduced processes that only add cost or marginal value? Have you identified and alleviated process chain bottle necks?
4. Ensure you have reliable and timely information
a. Do you have confidence in the integrity of the information you receive?
b. Can you interrogate your database beyond standard reporting formats?
c. Have you decided what information is ‘mission critical’? ‘Nice to have’?
d. Have you identified, and are you managing or mitigating all key risk areas?
e. Are you turning qualitative information into intelligence and insights?
5. Take all stakeholders with you
a. Do you have a plan to manage conflicting stakeholder objectives?
b. Are you communicating frequently and effectively with all stakeholders, (including your people and customers)? How do you know that your ‘high flyers’ and key customers know how much you value them and why?
c. If you have been forced to downsize your workforce, have you responded appropriately to and managed the ‘survivors’ emotional reactions of surprise, denial, and anger?
d. Have you considered deploying the skills of your people differently to reflect changing priorities and revenue streams?
e. When last did you have large group, small group and one-on-one ‘coffee’ chats with your people?