The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently declared the fast spreading COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, warning over ‘alarming levels of inaction’. As such, many countries are adversely affected – community spreading is sustained and the number of infected increases day by day. Should these nations take decisive actions to mitigate the outbreak, the outcome may be vastly different.
This applies to businesses too. Due to the virulent crisis, many companies react like a deer in the headlights – freezing. This instinct seems to be the safest from which to assess. Hesitations occur everywhere as the current situation is full of uncertainty.
However, uncertainty is not going anytime soon, so should inaction always be the default response? How can leaders adapt in such perilous times?
Markets are constantly changing. And this implies businesses need to consistently conform to the competitions, trends and landscapes. Such conformity also indicates decision making. So, when companies are not doing anything, what are the negative impacts to their businesses not changing?
Mentality plays a vital role in tough periods. The fear of moving and not changing something that may be proven to work so far, is what lures the businesses into an incompetency that ends up doing more harm than good. Just because the business can tide through in the past does not mean it will always do. For the matter of fact, the ever-changing nature of the markets can prove that it would not. The cost of inaction – failing to re-invest in the business, people and technology – can diminish the business positioning and make the leaders becoming more and more irrelevant.
Here are some actions to be taken in face of uncertainty and reduce the cost of doing nothing:
Uncertainty may overshadow the mass but not every individual is affected equally. The advantage will often go to those who can learn quickly. And always drive learning to change behaviours.
Learning faster also involve acknowledgement of failures and errors. The objective is to minimise the costs and the odds that the same mistake recurs. Businesses need to cultivate a culture that embraces errors when facing uncertainty.
Be Ready to Exploit
Uncertainty breeds anxiety for most people and sight of the potential for unexpected gains is usually lost. Managers will not decide and often defer difficult options by expecting more data and deeper studies. While data can eradicate some uncertainty, it rarely to be gone completely. Leaders should make choices swiftly for the business survival and prepare for the gains uncertainty can yield. Do not wait until the last minute to prepare as the business may be too slow to exploit.
Getting a Third-party Perspective
Often times, enterprises do not actually realise they are doing nothing until an outsider indicates to them. The reason the cost of doing nothing is so widespread is because majority of the enterprises do not deem it as inaction in the first place. As such, it is often too late when they realise it. Companies need to seek others for opinions. These partners and consultants can help to highlight where, what and why the organisation is lagging, educate the management on various topics and provide solutions to keep the business in the game.
It is scary when the company does not know what it do not know and thus, it is important to consult other parties to provide perspectives on challenges, trends and even how to pivot the business.
For the survivability and sustainability of the company, leaders must utilise better tools to manage uncertainty – faster learning, constant lookout for unexpected gains and seeking third-party opinions. With these essentials in place, the company will have a better grasp of the evolving markets and can make more informed decisions in times of virulence. Overall, a crisis should never be a reason for inaction as its cost is way heavier than taking actions and eventually leads to the downfall of the business.
About BlackStorm Consulting
BlackStorm Consulting is a boutique growth consultancy firm that specialises in corporate strategy, profit management and investment management. We mainly serve clients in four sectors: FinTech, Gaming, Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT), and manufacturing.
Our clients and connections are internationally present and range from small and medium sized businesses, MNCs, to government agencies.