Times are indeed uncertain. A particular business might exist today and disappear tomorrow. A particular customer might exist today and be gone tomorrow. A significant cost item may be so low today and become so high tomorrow. A major raw material component may be in plentiful supply today and suddenly become scarce tomorrow. Business or organizations are in for uncertain times.
The strategic planner must bear in mind to expect, and to expect more of the unexpected. These may be the only keys left to unlock the door of survival way well into the future. To expect the unexpected is both serious business and trivial business. By serious business is meant that business or organizations should be on the guard for the unexpected. Unexpected trends, unexpected movements in the market, unexpected shift in the customer base, the list can go on.
The lookout for the unexpected should be done with the primary motivation of analyzing whether such and such will affect business now or will alter business in the future. The statement that to expect the unexpected is trivial business simply means that even if you are not on the lookout, you will notice something; you will notice a shift from the ordinary.
The diet shift is an excellent paradigm. Food is something that people enjoy; they want to eat in fancy restaurants, eat gourmet food and taste all kinds of stuff. But the sudden incidence of various kinds of illness that are food related, forced physicians to prescribe some sort of diet.
Presently there are so many dieting theories as there are prescriptions. There is a diet with no carbohydrates, a diet with carbohydrates, a diet with no fat, a diet with a lot of fat; they all seem contradictory. The next thing that happened was the demand for the organic. People wanted something organic, something natural and this is unexpected.
Certain industries are directly affected by such a paradigm. If this can be classified as a driving force, then a host of industries become affected, from farms to restaurants to clothing stores. The strategic planner must look for and expect the unexpected.
Disregard the Obvious
The business world is not only all auditory; it is also a visual world. We see things all around us, as it is being shaped and affected by the business environment. A word of warning though, for the strategic planner, what may be clearly seen with the eye may not be the real thing or the real score. Just because most of the people are wearing blue jeans does not mean that you can make a provision in the strategic plan to go into the apparel industry. Just because people are driving diesel-powered vehicles does not mean that vehicle manufacturers have to change their engines to diesel from gas or petrol.
The strategic planner has to disregard what is obvious and start to ask why? Why? In as many times as may be practical. The answer is not in the obvious, the answer is not in what is seen directly by the naked eye but the answer is there, hidden from view.
One has to view things from different angles and perspectives in order to see the real thing. Like viewing artwork, the strategic planner must be able to see the different forms, the different figures, the clear outlines and the abstract impressions.
A twist in the form may reveal a future strategic plan of the competitor; a different figure for an otherwise ordinary object may reveal innovation on the part of competition. The obvious may not the real picture. The strategic planner needs an uncanny eye to be able to disregard the obvious and find the real answers.
Reach the Unreachable
Difficulty is in the perception of the beholder. When you think and believe that certain goals are unreachable, no matter how hard you may try later on, you will notice that you just can not reach the goal. This premise has been proven time and time again in different fields and in different situations and undertakings. By painting that mental picture of impossibility you have surrendered to the achievement of possibility.
Strategic planners must plan to reach the unreachable, to climb the insurmountable, and to defeat the invincible. These are requirement in uncertain times. While markets may be in turmoil, end-users difficult to find, and competition on all four fronts, business and organizations should believe that they can and will be able do accomplish it. With this kind of mindset, business or organizations are well poised to start the initial stage of the actual task.
In the sports arena, the X-Games is the ultimate achievement. The ordinary sport is pushed to its extremity, in an attempt to reach what is typically considered unreachable. The same may be true of business or organizations. To reach the unreachable business or organizations must attempt X-Business.
The strategic planner has to come up with ideas, concepts, and designs that will push the business or organizations above its perceived limits and potential. This is something that the competition may probably never think the business or organization will try to attempt. It is a rather absurd and crazy concept. Nevertheless, reaching the unreachable, attempting where no one has dared, and doing something no one has dreamed of doing may be a logical alternative after all, in these uncertain times.
Visualize the Results
In uncertain times, the strategic planner has to visualize the results: vividly, accurately and appropriately. This may be a skill absent in many people in business or organizations. But this skill and art is something that is present on those involved in the strategic initiative. Proof that business or organizations have made the accurate decision on its choice of the strategic planner lies in the fact that genuine planner can visualize the results.
Visualization is a very potent aspect when planning in uncertain times. When the outcome is uncertain, visualizing and imagining your players, your movements and your opponents response to all these give you some form of advantage. An aspect in game theory that very few business or organizations have adopted is the thinking process of the team captain.
Team captain can visualize and imagine vividly what the coaches instructions are. They not only have vivid imaginations, they are also able to vividly make the necessary adjustment if conditions are not ideal in the playing field. This is something that may be worthy of emulation.
Planning in uncertain times may necessitate more visualization. The strategic planner has to visualize more. He has to make his visualization more vivid, more detailed, and more up to date. He has to visualize the forward, backward, upward and downward movement of the competitor.
Even before the competition starts its game, the strategic planner has to visualize the proper anticipation and response. If the competition tries to move around the market position, for example, the strategic planner has already pictured the kind of block and moves he will make to put the competition right on its tracks.
The strategic planner must visualize the results. He has also to make the necessary visualization how to arrive at such and such results. If business or organizations just want a bronze medal kind of result then visualization has to be in synchronization. The same is true if the business or organization wants a silver medal kind of result. But who needs, bronze and silver, when the business or organization can get the gold medal. Uncertain times will be here to stay, and so business or organization should carefully and deliberately plan for them.