When will they ever learn?

#defyexpectations leadership Mar 08, 2022

I used to laugh at my mother, who all her adult life stockpiled candles and tinned food and needles and thread, “because you couldn’t get them in the war”.  She went through the Blitz in London working in a blood transfusion unit.  Her father had been killed at Passchendaele in 1918.  Like many of her generation she had learned the lessons of two world wars, and was preparing, in her own mind, for the next one.  

But we, the generations who have not lived through wars, have moved on and lost that sense of preparedness.  Looking at the news of the past week we surely need to find that sense of being ready to face the unknown.  If you are in any position of leadership then now is the time to reflect on the fact that the world can change overnight and that even when the current crisis is over the economies of Europe are not going to be the same again.

Preparedness is the way you safeguard your business against being collateral damage.  Are you ready for energy shortages, for disrupted supply chains, for cancelled contracts, for high inflation?  Are your customers prepared?  Never assume that just because you don’t think bad things will happen means that they will not.  Plan for an uncertain future. Read history, it will not repeat itself exactly, but it can often be a guide to what is likely to happen.  Putin, for example, is operating from Hitler’s playbook. The next steps will very likely come from the same playbook.  Relook at your strategy as though you are playing chess and ask,“What is the next move after the next move and the next move and so on?”.  Work through all the alternatives and start to plan alternative responses.  Talk to all your stakeholders and see what they think. Out of this will come the thinking that may give your business a future.