“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley," wrote Scottish poet Robert Burns. Even the finest, most well-thought-out plans sometimes have to be set aside for reasons outside of your control.
During times of uncertainty, one of the most important traits for any business to have is flexibility.
With a willingness to adjust plans, divert from the original strategy, and make small or large pivots, your business can be more resilient during stormy weather.
If your business is facing uncertainty and the road ahead is unclear, here's how to add more flexibility to your plans, projects and strategy to help you get through it.
Accept what you need to postpone or change
If the landscape your business exists in has suddenly changed, you will need to make changes inside your organization too. That's especially the case if you need to tighten budgets and make sure it's spent in the places with the highest return.
Take a look at all of the projects in your pipeline and assess what really needs to be prioritized right now, what can be postponed, and what can be discarded.
Encourage each department in your business to ask:
- Is now the best time for the projects we are focusing on?
- Should we adjust our content and communications to deliver the most value to our audience?
- Is budget in the right place, or do we need to change allocations?
- Would team members offer the most value working on different priorities?
- What pivots should we be making?
If your business is experiencing higher levels of churn or lower profits, you may also need to reassess some goals you forecast during times of prosperity or at least adjust expectations.
Identify where your focus is most valuable
After you have reassessed the projects that your business is working on, it's time to look at your own to-do list too.
Ask yourself: where can I add the most value with an hour, a day, a week or a month of focus?
Even if you can't forecast the future, you can think about what's the most valuable way to spend your time right now. Make sure your agenda is aligned with the tasks that matter most instead of the busywork that's landed on your desk.
Maintain transparency with your team
When your business or industry is going through some turbulence, it's more crucial than ever to maintain strong communication with your team.
To sustain the trust that's essential for a focused and happy team, make sure that your top leadership is honest and transparent about where your business stands right now, key goals for the upcoming period, and what the current challenges are.
A transparent and engaged team is essential for a resilient business that can endure times of change.
Embrace different working styles
Building a resilient and flexible business requires a willingness to do things differently than you have before. You may need to embrace new ways of working instead of stubbornly saying "but this is how we've always done things".
This can include adapting to different working styles, such as remote work - which might even be a necessity to a lot of businesses. To help your team adapt to remote work, think about team-wide policies you can introduce to encourage better focus, well-being and productivity. These can include:
- Introducing remote-friendly apps for video calls
- Adopting a company-wide communication tool such as Slack
- Scheduling remote meetings to catch up with your team and share information
- Encouraging team members to focus on their mental health and well-being
Reinforce the foundations
If your business becomes less busy with new leads and projects, it's a good time to focus on strengthening the foundations so you're in the best position when things start to pick up again.
You could also use this as a time to look at your tech stack and identify weaknesses and areas for improvement.
Some questions to help optimize your tech stack include:
- Which apps are we paying for that don't add value?
- Could certain apps be replaced by free tools?
- Do we have any overlapping tools?
- Where are there opportunities to integrate data between apps to increase productivity?
Facing times of uncertainty is challenging for any business, but the right amount of flexibility and resilience can help your organization weather the storm. Although this can put a lot of pressure on businesses, are there some ways that you can come out stronger on the other side?