Play to win and not just to play. Turbulence will always challenge you but cannot kill you unless you dose. It will challenge your resolve, your mind and the efficacy of your strategies. In turbulence it is possible to win and to be propelled forward beyond your wildest imagination. Turbulence creates novel situations, opportunities, threats and risks.
Others regrettably do not survive turbulence. Others remain in denial and oblivious of the change in windspeed, wind-direction and context. Things are no longer what they were. In turbulence that is when others rise and soar. The way you think and what you do in turbulence matters. Turbulence signifies the need to change strategic direction and to have strategic flexibility. In turbulence four key actions are important: stand, sanitise, strengthen and shift or shield. This is a key four-action gear-set that I have developed for navigating when things are changing and the context is shifting.
Stop panicking and thinking that the sky is falling and that everything has come to an end. It shall, but not just yet. Turbulence is an opportunity to assess where you stand. Turbulence is not a time for mere optics but practical action. It is not a time to play “me too” games without looking deeply and understanding your position. You have to look squarely at the context. Try and understanding what is happening from the eyes of the industry, your clients.
Stand, listen attentively, look closely and see around corners. Look at the signals because the signals are always talking and it is your responsibility to hear the unheard. Do not give up and do not stop thinking, planning or moving. In turbulence some organisations give up strategic thinking and decide to just float along. The greater the turbulence the greater the need for strategic reflections and hyperawareness.
Stop thinking like a victim and adopting tortoise strategies of retreating into your shell and behaving like a victim. Stand and do not panic. Turbulence is no time to engage in wishful thinking and play small games thinking the turbulence is a passing fade. Turbulence brings temporary and permanent changes, recasting the meaning of normal. Stop thinking that the challenges you face will soon vanish. Prepare to survive the storm should the storm decide to be part of the village. Keep standing and thinking.
St. Paul encourages to adopt a battle mindset. He advises that the faith is no stroll in the park but a fight. The key is to keep standing, having done all to stand, and to stand therefore. In Ephesians 6:10-13 of the Message Bible he says: “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.”
In these times personal hygiene is strategic action. You cannot just assume that because you cannot see the dirt, all is clean. Some things just cling on to surfaces for a long time. Take time then to sanitise and to clean out things. There are many things to sanitize more than just hands. The best and the worst comes out in moments of crises. In turbulence you have to shed off unnecessary weight and non-value adding activities, stop insane action and sanitise your thinking and action.
An important part of sanitisation is to eliminate waste. Toyota Motor Company lead the way in introducing a way of working that is called “Lean”. This is at the heart of the Toyota Production System and has since been expanded and adopted by other organisations. The eight classes of waste that need to be sanitised as transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over-processing, defects and unused talent.
Defects are waste that comes from a product or service that fails to meet customer expectations. This results is the product or service being rejected or reworked. Sanitise your work of corrections and defects. Overproduction is waste from making or ordering more product than is demanded. Waiting is time spent waiting for the next process step to occur. The only people that bare paid appearance fees are celebrities. The majority of us do not have the luxury of paying people to show us without any work being done. Sanitise your processes to eliminate the waste of waiting.
The other type of waste is transportation. This is wasted time, resources and costs when unnecessarily moving products, materials and people. An important shift in thinking in turbulence is moving from work being a place you go to, to being work that is done. Inventory is waste resulting from excess products and materials that are not processed. Motion is wasted time and effort related to unnecessary movement by people. Extra-processing is wastes related to more work or higher quality than is required. Turbulence requires sanitising complexity in product, organisation or processes. It requires cutting through the clutter and removing unnecessary complexity and bringing simplicity. The final and most terrible waste is unused talent. This is waste due to underutilisation of people’s talents, skills, experience and knowledge.
Strengthen the feeble knees and the weak hands. The purpose of strategy is to strengthen the organise and play to win and not just to play. Strengthen you balance sheet and your important relationships. Turbulence times are times for strengthening important ties with your network.
Strengthen your core. This is your repeatable formula that need to keep pumping and generating momentum. Strengthening the core means also adapting the core to the changing context.
An important key to strengthening the organisation in a time of change is helping people to understand what is happening, what changes are happening and the need for the change. When people work together and fight together great things happen. When people work against each other, and at cross purposes turbulences inducing a downward spiral and confusion.
The purpose of all strategic analysis is to be clear of the strategic shifts that you intend to make. Shift your thinking and clarify the big and bold moves that you need to make.
An important shift is deciding how you will preserve the core of what you do and yet shift to shield it. In turbulence supply chains and business models are disrupted. Customers shift. The technology shifts and all these signify a need to shift and start moving. This is no season to give up on strategy or thinking strategically. In turbulence dying or living is ultimately your decision and determined by the quality of your action.
Committed to your greatness.