Yesterday the Business Desk reported that businesses had held off making decisions in 2018 due to uncertainty, businesses are stockpiling ahead of Brexit, and Jaguar Land Rover announced 5,000 UK job cuts. Airbus’ Chief Executive Toms Enders has openly described the uncertainty of Brexit as unbearable, and large organisations such as NHS trusts are struggling to plan in the midst of such uncertainty.

So how can we plan effectively in such an uncertain climate? Of course, we can’t fully predict or prepare for future events, but we can make sure we’re equipped with the right tools, and we can develop fluid plans with multiple scenarios in mind. Below are some ideas to help you prepare for the coming years.

Plan for different scenarios

If you’ve seen the most recent Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch, where you get to choose your own ending, and you’re old enough to remember, it will have taken you back to the choose your own story books we all loved in the eighties. It’s this kind of multiple scenario situation we need to prepare for. Imagine that there could be multiple outcomes, and don’t plan for the most likely or the most publicly predicted. A successful company prepares for multiple outcomes, no matter what’s expected by politicians and high-profile influencers. You can bring all your teams together to join the planning process, inviting new perspectives and innovative thinking. You might want to bring in an independent, fresh pair of eyes to help you think outside the box, such as a coach or facilitator.

Investing in relationships

When times are uncertain, you might feel the need to bury yourself in files, accounts and work, work, work. However, now is a more important time than ever before to build and maintain your relationships. You’re going to need support from your partners, your peers and colleagues, so you need to make sure there’s a strong circle of trust around you. This takes time that you might not believe you have, but it’s a sound investment in your professional future and the longevity of your business.

Understand the signs

Business planning in an uncertain landscapeI’m sure you follow the news and you’re on top of the headlines, but do you really understand the economic indicators, and can you read between the lines of the main media’s headlines? Do you pay close attention to national economic forecasts and are you clear about how they might affect your industry? Are you fully informed about business trends? By understanding the economy as a whole and understanding what decisions are being made at a national level; by fighting your way past the Brexit headlines and seeing what else is happening in the background, you can forecast more effectively and spot potential opportunities that your competitors might be missing.

Keep analysing

Business planning in an uncertain landscape2When time is tight, and the pressure is on, analysis can take a back seat for some businesses. Is this the case for you? Successful businesses value thorough analysis, and continually review their business strategy based on the evidence of the impact that their actions are having.  Make sure everything you’re doing is measurable, and make sure your key indicators are being effectively tracked so you’re clear about what’s working well and what could be changed if the ending was different to the one you expected.

Find out more

The only thing we’re sure about is change. This is true now, but it’s not a new phenomenon. As business leaders we’ve been future-proofing since the dawn of time, and we will be for many years to come, so we might as well make sure we’re doing it well. If you want support to help you prepare for uncertain times, you can talk to Catalyst about Coaching, mentoring or consultancy, please get in touch.