Signs of a muddled, unclear 2019 abound in the headlines to start the year. The number of uncertainties facing companies and organizations have significantly increased from a year ago, from rising interest rates, trade disputes, a slowing China, to rapid digital transformations affecting all. In January, for example, the Institute for Supply Chain Management announced that December’s Purchasing Managers Index dropped 5.2% to 54.1, the largest drop the index has experienced since 2008. It the leading indicator that U.S. manufacturing expansion is slowing and companies are expressing more uncertainty about the future.
But there are also some new opportunities. Navigating well for leaders and organizations – not just traditional planning or tweaking current plans – will be key this year.
We’re in a major re-adjustment time, not just industry structures but also business models. From energy to autos to healthcare to retail, nearly every organization I deal with is facing tremendous uncertainty. In autos, for example, both Ford and GM have announced plans to close manufacturing facilities, while suppliers like IAC, Adient and ZF are making similar closing or restructuring announcements. Where will be future growth? What might your industry look like in coming years?
From experience, these times of high uncertainty and flux also create some new opportunities. Imagine for a moment if you are now able to create a new powerful vision, strategies or re-create some parts of your organization.
Questions to consider to start the year:
- Is your current strategy sound and resilient against current possible headwinds? Have you considered scenario planning to make better decisions, navigate well and plan in these times of greater uncertainty?
- Where and how might new innovation and opportunities emerge? Are you prepared? Or, maybe – can you actually create them?
- Who do you want to be 3–5 years from now? Maybe this is the right time to re-envision yourself, chart a new course, and create a new exciting organization.
Navigating well is much about stories – the stories of our organizations – and the stories we tell ourselves and create as leaders. When 2019 is all done, what story would you like to tell about what happened and what decisions you helped make?