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Unravelling the future for your business

The ever accelerating pace of change means that reviews of strategic direction can no longer be confined to the annual planning cycle. A constant vigilance is required to spot impending changes in the competitive landscape, combined with the operational agility to act quickly in response to these changes.

This may involve a certain amount of inspired guesswork and placing of bets on a number of possible future scenarios, recognising that picking winners will not be easy. But what is loss making today may be your core business 5 years from now. Sitting on the fence and waiting to see what will happen could be the riskiest strategy !

Who would have believed just 12 months ago that large elements of retail, commercial, hospitality, leisure, entertainment and transport infrastructure would be faced with redundancy. It would be naive and imprudent to assume that things will return to a past ‘normal’ when the Covid crisis passes. Better to reimagine your future informed by current socio economic and political trends, powered by what will surely be exponential scientific and technology advances.

The good news is that there will be opportunities for those who can interpret the trends for their sectors and businesses, and act in a timely manner. Major current trends :

– Opportunities arising from the sustainability agenda/ Climate Crisis.

– The localisation of markets (retreat from globalisation) and enhanced sense of community.

– The development of rural communities and reimagining of urban environments.

– Exponential increase in online delivery of products and services, if only because of ongoing health concerns around traditional retail shopping.

– Changes in population and market profiles. Implications for policy making and markets of a more sizeable and politically engaged younger cohort ? Opportunities arising from an ageing population and the increase in the retirement age?

In order to be ‘match fit’ for this new world you need to build a diverse team with an open (growth) mindset. Your culture will need to encourage and reward calculated risk taking. Be ready to accept that a lot of what has made you successful may not be relevant going forward. A willingness to transition from an existing successful market positioning (but with a dubious future ) may be required.

Experience is always important but youth and creativity needs to be strongly represented in your workforce and management team. Seeking out and having ongoing access to ‘intelligence’ with an understanding of the impact of future technological developments will be key.

While you may need to act decisively to position for the future, lead times to viability for initiatives you take may be longer. Be prepared for a longer return on investment horizon, for which you will need cash resources. Partnering and collaboration with others may be a route you need to consider both to identify and develop opportunities.

Summary. The accelerated pace of change in the years ahead will likely require a mindset shift by business leaders from incremental change to a more radical repositioning of their businesses, in order to survive and thrive.

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