Many Moving Parts

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Many Moving Parts

‘Unfortunately, I am unable to assist. There is so much happening at the same time’. This was the response, from a colleague to a request from the chair of a group, to which I belong. His response resonated with me, as I have been saying ‘there are so many moving parts’, in reference to the management of organizations, with which I consult. Both the macro and micro-environments seem to be in rapid flux. It appears that each day a new situation arises, a new crisis looms. Events seem to no longer telegraph themselves; they just arrive.

Earlier this year, I gave one of my clients the word ‘agility’ as a watchword for these times. But even I was not prepared for the randomness of occurrences and hence the need to be agile in adapting to changing circumstances. It is also the magnitude of change, these are not minor, periphery events as topics for cocktail parties, but happenings with significant impact on the operations of organizations – containers with raw material are last minute rerouted or delayed, prices of fuel increase by 20% with a couple of weeks’ notice, principals suddenly inform you of price increases, new opportunities appear suddenly, the outgoing supply chain is disrupted, another variant of Covid appears, knocking out a department, a new compliance rule is unveiled…and the list goes on.

Once upon a time Strategic Planning had a ten-year horizon, then five years, then 3 years, now some gurus say there is only response. Take for instance, Elon Musk makes a US$44B takeover of Twitter in a week, to take it private. Was this in Twitter’s Strategic Plan? Was it in this year’s business plan? What happens to budgets? Staff?

As a corporate manager, a small business owner, or just a professional managing her career how do you plan for this? How should one operate? I believe I can suggest a few responses, I would like to hear yours.

  • Stay lean. Be careful when making long term investments. Do I have to purchase equipment or build buildings, or should I just rent or lease?
  • Outsource as much as possible. Do I need to hire additional staff, or should I just partner with small independent suppliers?
  • Have a clear vision for the business. Clarify your value added and blinker out side-shows.
  • Know your Business Core Competencies. Invest in your core competencies. In these times that’s your competitive edge – not the equipment.
  • Work with daily ‘To Do’ lists and reminders.
  • Leverage technology to increase productivity.
  • Collaborate to form productive teams.

I leave you with a QUESTION – Is this a temporary phenomenon linked with the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine or is it part of the future that has already crashed on our shores?