At a recent Centre for Family Business event, Larry Smith, a renowned thought leader and educator, presented a compelling message for enhancing business productivity and success.
For the first time in his career, Larry felt there is no reliable data to support evidence-based predictions.
Instead of relying on predictions, Larry spoke about evidence-based agility and well-considered goals. He used those words to explain how business people should do their work in these times of unprecedented change and unpredictability.
That Larry Smith wisdom provides guiding principles for future strategic planning and implementation of plans.
First, business leaders must go beyond the surface for the concepts ‘Purpose’ and ‘Vision’. When a leader’s Purpose is clear and unwavering it sets the stage for a clear long-term Vision. When these concepts are sustained and communicated well, long-term and short-term goals can be set. Considering Larry Smith’s advice, these goals cannot be as etched-in-stone as they used to be. Leaders must accept that fact and find the right balance between ‘being persistent…keep on keeping on’ as Napoleon Hill recommended and adapting to unforeseen or underestimated realities.
While, as Stephen R. Covey recommended, we must always ‘keep the end point in mind’, we must now be comfortable adjusting that end point when changes – new and escalating patterns and trends – send strong signals that adjustments are needed. To identify the need for adjustments, we must monitor our progress under current plans and actions continuously. Monitoring, reporting, and agility must be more timely than annual and quarterly performance reviews. Agility must catch up with the pace of change.
Paraphrasing Larry – ‘While travelling across the ocean, we will be off course throughout our journey’. Similarly, in business, we must make continuous course correction decisions, while keeping our destination in mind. Our adjustments may be small or large, depending on the conditions we face. And, like weather and waves, business conditions can change quickly and remain problematic for extended durations. Under unprecedented business conditions, we may need to change our choice of destination, or make material changes to the route between us and our planned destination.
In unprecedented times and situations, reality checks and adaptions are required as prudent reactions to the reality we are experiencing…regardless of what, in the past, initially appeared to be best made plans.
Reality checks demand attention to evidence. We must choose the right data , basing our decisions on facts not opinions and guesses. The waters may seem clear where we are sitting while turbulence lurks nearby or on the horizon. We must be wary and continuously vigilant until patterns and trends allow us to make evidence-based, believability-weighted longer-term decisions.
In the upcoming second blog of this series, we will explore practical recommendations inspired by Larry Smith’s teachings, bringing improvements to both strategic planning and implementation of actions. These actionable insights will introduce tools and strategies needed to implement evidence-based agility and well-considered goals, improving your own business endeavours.
Stay tuned for more valuable advice that will empower you to thrive in an ever-changing world.