Last week the Bank of England’s Chief Economist was forced to admit that the predictions made about the aftermath of Brexit did not appear to be accurate.
We shouldn’t be surprised that even professionals and experts in their field are getting predictions wrong these days. This isn’t a reflection of their lack of expertise or their professional integrity. It’s a reflection of the level of change and uncertainty that faces every aspect of our lives.
The news last week reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague at British Gas. His job was to forward predict the level of Gas consumption in the UK. He told me that for many decades one of the key data inputs for his job was a rolling 71-year average temperature. But he went on to tell me that in the mid 90’s it was recognised that the 71-year average was not providing accurate enough predictions. After much debate in the industry they moved to a 17 year rolling average, then, just a few years later reduced that to a 5 year rolling average. The key message? Things were changing faster than it was possible to model. History was largely meaningless.
I’ll bet you’ve seen changes in your industry over the time you have been involved with it. Whilst normal economic cycles cause markets to expand and contract, the real long term trends are driven primarily by globalisation and the rapid advance in technologies.
But I’ll make one FORECAST that is beyond argument:
Whatever level of change you have coped with thus far is a drop in the ocean to what is coming within just decades.
As a Business coach I could make a good and steady living continually pointing you at change as it happens and keeping you doing the things you know you should be doing, but aren’t. But there’s a more interesting leverage point that has my attention now.
You see change happens. Always has, always will.
But, the results you get are not a function of the changes that are happening. The results come from your ability to discern what is happening and the quality and speed of the ideas, decisions, actions and conversations that you go on to take.
I’m interested in how I get people to show up in ways that enable them to embrace change and effortlessly advance towards the results they want, in the face of uncertainty
The good news from a business perspective is that the principles that underpin commercial success do not change. Business will (as long as commerce exists) always be about matching a product to a market, attracting and converting leads, delivering with excellence, creating a margin and keeping an optimum cash position.
Paying attention to these fundamentals and doing the BASIC stuff well, is at the heart of any good business. What will change is the WAY in which these fundamentals happen. Automation, systemisation, new technologies and artificial intelligence will completely change the demand for products and services as well as the way companies go about supplying them.
You need to challenge your own world view, your goals and your sense of self if you want the golden key to the opportunities that are currently hidden from you.
More time looking out
You, as a business leader, will need to spend more of your time externally facing your market looking for the trends and shifts so you can adapt and keep ahead of the game. You should be keeping up to speed with developments and regularly speaking to customers, your team and your suppliers. If you are still spending the bulk of your time at the coal face (remember ActionCOACH and working ON or IN your business?) make 2017 the year you deal with this. There is a new urgency about liberating your time. Your business survival will depend on it.
Separating yourself, and your teams, from the stories and patterns of thought you use to make sense of the world is the SINGLE MOST VALUABLE thing you will ever do for your business. The ability to challenge the source of opinions, ideas and comfort zones will help you collectively make clearer sense of what is happening around you, and that leads to smarter choices. The minds of business leaders are the very nerve centre for everything that happens in your business. Understanding how it works, when to trust your instinct and when it is likely to send you the wrong way is THE key skill for this era.
Knowledge and experience has limited value going forward. Your knowledge may well be the ‘71 year average’ that is holding you back. The skill of being able to recognise when and how your mind is distorting your reality, the ability to gather and critically assess information and the maintenance of your connections (the one with the most connections, wins) will allow it to be you who spots and gets the first go on the big waves.
Recognising who you are at your most trustworthy and what ‘signals in the system’ that can be relied on will help you develop the most valuable commercial tool that you have; your own intuition.
Start doing this for yourself by taking more time to actually reflect on how you are performing and how you form ideas and decisions. Try blocking an hour out this week, no excuses, to go somewhere quiet and contemplate these ideas. Profitable ideas will come quicker from a still mind than from a cluttered one. Encourage your teams to do the same.
Because when we know that the sand is shifting all around us the one thing we have to be able to rely on is our individual and collective judgement and intuition.