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The other day, a global executive being interviewed on a business news channel described his company’s position as “teetering on the edge of a cliff”.  I recognize that countless others feel as if they are in the same barrel. 

A few months ago, I published an article entitled 7 Trends of Digital Transformation That Encourage Futurist Mindset in the C-Suite. After digesting the dynamic shifts from the last few months and weeks, I reviewed the post and was pleased by how applicable the takeaways were despite the 180 degree financial turn that has since transpired. It reinforced my belief that strategy is just as critical in good times and in bad, and that the most effective mindset belongs to the futurists. I wanted to share the takeaway again, since I am confident you may also be reassured in its consistency: 

In times of rapid change, leaders need to prioritize collaboration, circumvent overlap, embrace open input, leverage decentralization, learn fast, promote workflows over silos, and commit to / apply all aspects of digital literacy.   

It isn’t too late to embrace these characteristics of the futurist mindset. The rapid evolution we are witnessing is certainly more negative than when I penned the original article, but change is change. Concepts like “decision-making at the edge” and “open sourcing” were implemented by only the most forward-leaning enterprises a few months ago. Today, they are elements of crisis management for every business, including those with the primary struggle of maintaining pace with demand.  

Also unchanged is how notable the distinctions are when it comes to expectations of leadership in environments of launch, growth, scaling and sustainability. In 2018, via a post entitled The DNA of Entrepreneurial Leadership, I explored some of the traditional differences between growth and sustainable-oriented leaders, and it occurred to me that a blend of both entrepreneurial characteristics would benefit most organizations right now.  Controlling the uncontrollable may require some level of pivot in product, service, business model, skill sets and culture. A futurist strategy that promotes flexibility, collaboration, efficiency and technology-based automation is the answer to this challenge. 

In the blink of an eye, the life cycle for entities around the world shifted into sheer sustainability mode, and leaders are scrambling to respond and adjust. Right now, many entrepreneurs and executives are tasked to overcome revenues falling off a cliff, while simultaneously best preparing for a rapid ramp-up as soon as the crisis ceases. I personally am cautious on how quickly the global economy will recover, but I am advising my clients to keep next steps in mind while critical short-term decisions are made, particularly with respect to the loss of employees. Do everything to retain your team for as long as possible. If layoffs are unavoidable, it isn’t too early to start planning how to engage rehires or new employees in the months ahead.  The process of Design Thinking – which is inherently human-centric, iterative and fostering of untapped concepts – is particularly valuable in times like these.    

The greatest challenge facing organizations today is that leaders have to simultaneously operate in both sustainability and future growth mode, and that dual capability is rare. Forward-thinking is difficult when in crisis mode, but if the dichotomy can’t be achieved, why bother saving the organization anyway? If you don’t have c-suite leaders capable of supporting these dual mindsets and asking the right (new) questions, Escalate Solutions is here to help.