5 Ways to Prepare for Uncertainty

You can’t know the future, but you can know how to plan for change.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball for your business that lets you peer into the future so you make the right decisions all the time? While that’s not likely to happen, there’s one thing all of us can predict with a relative amount of certainty: Change is inevitable.

Practice these five strategies to face an uncertain future with greater confidence:

  1. Make peace with uncertainty. Change can be unnerving, even scary. But if you look at change as an opportunity, then you can face uncertainty with excitement rather than foreboding. That’s a key distinction.
  2. Develop a clear vision of success. Vision does not mean prognostication. Rather, it’s a goal that can energize you and your company — something you can embrace when things take an unexpected turn.
  3. Foster openness. If your leadership style is “my way or the highway,” you are limiting your company’s maneuverability. Flexibility and openness to new ideas can make your company nimble enough to avoid unexpected pitfalls — and, equally important, to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. Allow employees to challenge the current way of doing things and offer suggestions for improvement.
  4. Learn from early failures. Venture capitalists expect only a minority of the companies they invest in to deliver a return, but anticipate that those few successes may be big enough to overcome the other failures and yield significant profit. Similarly, you should take an iterative approach to new initiatives — investing limited resources to see which ones achieve early milestones. This practice can point your development efforts in the right direction, limit the cost of failure and free up resources to back the most promising ideas.
  5. Monitor and refine processes to prepare for the future. Successfully managing change is rarely a one-time operation. It is continuous. Monitor business processes and initiatives against performance benchmarks, and then seek out opportunities for improvement based on the results. This type of feedback loop becomes an engine of continuous improvement.

These days, a nimble company is far more likely to surpass its competitors than one that rests on its laurels. But achieving that forward-looking perspective often requires a cultural shift that begins at the top. Leaders who embrace uncertainty as an opportunity rather than as an unwelcome challenge are well positioned to navigate the future with confidence.

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