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?