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Like most folks, I’m still unsure of what stage of the pandemic we are in:

  • Are we hitting the end of this?
  • Are we in the rough middle stages?
  • Is there some big twist that will push us back to the beginning?

I’m not sure.

What I do know is that this period of time definitely fits the definition of what many strategists term a “VUCA” environment:

  • Volatile
  • Uncertain
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous

And, for me, helping my clients think through dealing with this time has kept my mind off of where we are in the stages of recovery or dealing with the pandemic, for the better I hope.

All of this thinking over the last few months has enabled me to put together a few ideas on managing your strategy through this particular VUCA environment:

Don’t Be Afraid of Choice:

Now, more than ever, we should all be willing to embrace the choices that are available to us.

We keep hearing about “The Great Resignation” and that is a reflection of people making a choice about their lives, their careers, and what is important to them.

What our research shows us is that people’s feelings on value have changed. What they want has changed. What they are willing to invest their time, money, and attention in, has all changed.

As you think through your business, it is important that you think about this in the context of you and your business. Expecting that the things that were certain before the pandemic started will remain certain is a dangerous bet.

This means that you must embrace choice and be willing to have the courage to make a new choice if that is what the world around you demands.

Know Your Position:

There are only two positioning choices you can make as a business:

  • Against the competition
  • About you and your business

The problem is that too many places attempt to try and do both, get stuck in the middle of nowhere, and end up making no sales.

As we enter a stage of recovery where the idea of “normal” or “new normal” is likely thrown around with no context and no basis in reality, it is important to understand why people will pick to work with you over your competition.

As Louis Grenier says during his course on “radical differentiation”, “not standing out is the dangerous path”.

So for all of us, we need to understand why folks are going to pick us and what that says about how we position ourselves in the market.

As an example:

  • It could be about service, where you say “our service is great” or “you don’t have to deal with bad service”. The first one is about you, the second one is about your competition.

Know this and deal with it.

Be Flexible:

In the best of times, strategic decisions shouldn’t be things you are shackled to for life. The reality is that all strategies eventually stop working and it is your job to understand that you are going to need to consistently update your strategy based on new research, new market conditions, or new value creation.

In a VUCA environment, these inflection points happen much more quickly, consistently, and radically.

This means that all of us need to recognize that we have to monitor our environment for signs of change, new ideas and opportunities, or new possibilities.

One of the key ideas that I try to teach in my strategy work is that the best approach to being flexible in your strategies isn’t to make your decision making process about being all or nothing, but about recognizing the possibilities so that you can take the one that will give you the best likelihood of success.

That’s smart in normal times. And, I’d argue even smarter now.