By Sinakho Dhlamini, HR Content Specialist, Top Employers Institute
By Sinakho Dhlamini, HR Content Specialist, Top Employers Institute

How Organisations are Creating Strategies to Weather the Uncertainty of 2022 and Beyond

Beyond a Return to "Normal"

The last few years of work have been tumultuous for organisations and their employees across the globe. World-changing events like the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the restructuring of global supply chains, the inflation crisis and more world-changing events have challenged many organisations’ abilities to effectively create long-term strategies. 

Uncertainty means risk, which can often scare business leaders but for many, it excites them as it also leads to opportunity. If an organisation is open to handling the uncertainty, they may be able to expand their business in ways that they never thought possible, exploring avenues that had not previously been identified. 

As businesses have had to reorganise their thinking around strategic decisions, hoping to adapt their practices to meet the changing expectations of the ‘new normal’, decision-making processes have become increasingly strategic. This change was notable even before the covid-19 pandemic but as we move beyond the first instances of returning to work, we need to investigate how leading businesses are making decisions in these unpredictable times. 

Business leaders that want to handle the insecurity well will need to see it as an opportunity for growth. It will require them to have an open and new mindset that is not set on looking only at what a company is currently doing but what they could do in the future. They also need to be able to be committed to doing what is necessary to make those changes happen, which can often involve needing to go against established best practices and assumptions. 

Rethinking Strategy

When devising, or revising, strategy organisations need to focus on the customer view. It has been a habit of many businesses to focus on creating many different customer profiles but in these uncertain times, it is more important for them to consider what their customers want in a specific situation. Many clever business thinkers have seen this as the ‘job that needs to be done’

Embrace the Involved Employee

It is in the best interests of the business for the entire organisation to be involved in developing an effective strategy. As 83% of Top Employers who involve their employees in the design of organisation and work have come to learn it is to the benefit of an organisation to listen to everyone in their team. Decision-making is no longer an isolated event that happens within a corporate strategy team. It is now an activity that is best supported by an adaptable organisation that facilitates the flow of ideas to allow solutions to emerge. Of course, it takes an organisation having the right skills in place to do this effectively but as the changing talent acquisition trends have shown it is a priority for many businesses. It should also be noted that interactions between individuals are often more important than the skills of the individuals alone. 

Revising Strategy as a Continuous Action

The rapid change that the world has undergone over the last few years proves that organisations need to maintain continuous interest in devising and revising strategies. That is not to say that the outcome needs to be continuously changing. It is better to maintain the defined outcome and then adjust and adapt the strategy over time. The path that organisations set to meet their goals need to be open to change as reality changes around them. Companies need to be open to relying on the experience they gain as they seek to reach their goals. 

As businesses seek out new ways of defining strategies this new approach makes it possible for them to thrive in a constantly changing, fast-paced world of work. To put this thinking into effect businesses can take a four-step approach.

1. Find the big question and define the destination

Formulating the right question is the first step to devising an effective strategy. The question that businesses are formulating is the one that the strategy seeks to answer, and the destination is where the organisation wants to be at the end of the day. The big question ideally stretches an organisation to expand its value creation for customers. While it is good to be realistic it is also an opportunity for dreaming.

2. Break down the question and the destination

Breaking down the strategic question and destination into smaller questions that directly relate to different parts of the business process and different parts of the organisation’s operations. Doing this work anchors the strategy-devising process to the organisation. 

3. Generate ideas

Once an organisation has looked at the big question, the smaller questions, and the destination the next step is to start the process of generating ideas and strategic options. It is not a time to keep asking questions but rather a time to look for strategic ideas. This idea generation is something that involves all of the organisation and happens both within the organisation and outside it by looking at what competitors are doing.

4. Identify the best options

The last step is to look for the best strategic option for the destination that has already been set. It is a good idea to look at how success looks like for each possible plan, as well as look into how neatly they meet the destination. Comparing these outcomes to each other will give an organisation a better understanding of which is the best strategy option.

Final Thoughts

The changing global landscape can be overwhelming for many organisations but when it is taken with a positive mind it can become an opportunity to shift an organisation into a better way of working. Organisations should look to the possibilities as they weather the storms and embrace the fact that life may never be ‘normal’ again.