Remember ‘The Hunger Games’ movie? If the 2020 was a movie, you could be forgiven for thinking we’re racing through a ‘Hunger Games’ landscape right now. That dystopian movie featured adrenalin-charged characters navigating a frightening obstacle course experience where the parameters of the game keep changing at critical moments. And where the characters are literally fighting for their survival.
The speed of action in this movie, and the speed of unexpected changes, was unbelievable.
Commentators have talked a lot recently about pivoting in unprecedented times. The rapid pace of change in NZ and across the world has changed our familiar business environment into a ‘Hunger Games’ style landscape.
For many business leaders, this means being at point A, taking steps towards point B, and then rapidly changing direction as a new challenge hurtles towards you – threatening to wipe you out.
It is normal to find that you will need to make some decisions quickly in business, without every scrap of insight to give you 100% confidence that in your decision. Pre Covid-19, business leaders on the cautious end of the decision-making spectrum had the option to wait until everything was lined up more perfectly before making a move.
That all changed in the last eight weeks or so. New markets are emerging as old markets go into hibernation or vanish altogether.
In the ‘Hunger Games’, characters who stayed the safest were usually those who kept up their momentum. They kept moving through the obstacles, and as unforeseen dangers appeared, their momentum gave them an extra agility that helped them to pivot and escape to a safer position.
Responding to the crisis, T&G’s 3000 staff here and aboard have become better connected and more engaged, Edgecombe says. They’ve learnt now to “cut to the centre of issues quickly,” to make and act on decisions with less than full information, and to meet short-term demands while working on longer term needs of the business.
“The great discovery for us is how remarkable the benefits have been to productivity, connection and moving the business forward.” Staff and company are determined to build on these gains in pace and agility as life becomes somewhat less pressured, he says.
Waiting for 100% certainty before making a move can mean missing out on the best parts of the opportunity. Or placing yourself in more danger as you stay in a worsening situation, desperately hoping for improvement.
Anecdotally, a Magnify contact recently shared that many CEOs make decisions with just 60% of the information they need. On the face of it, this sounds extremely risky. Wouldn’t they be better to wait until they have all the information before deciding to act?
What makes a ‘perfect decision’?
Is an imperfect decision better than a perfect decision? Check out James Kemp, who often talks about imperfect action over perfection.
An imperfect decision is likely to be the perfect decision to make at this fast-moving time.
Much like the decision to place New Zealand in lockdown, fast decisions that take account of strong forward trends are often better than waiting for those trends to become a full reality before finally taking decisive action. Fast decisions can get us ahead of the impact curve and mitigate the damage further down the track.
A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
– Wayne Gretzsky, legendary Canadian ice hockey player.
Business leaders looking out at a changed business landscape need to look for where the ‘puck’ – the opportunity – is going to be. We need to plan for strategic revenue growth by developing an ability to predict market trends before these are fully revealed.
First, Map your Market
- Think about all the available people that you can sell to
- Where do you find them?
- How do you get hold of them?
- Add in some robust competitor analysis and industry insights
These two steps will supply the information you need to identify the gaps in your market and plan the best way to enter your new opportunities.
If we just stay with what we know to be certain, we will probably be alright for now. To get ahead, you need to be brave and move in the direction that you see things going. You will usually gain the most benefit from your decision by being the first (or one of the first) into the opportunity.
Of course, there is always the chance that you could make the wrong decision.
What if things change after you step out?
In our fast-moving ‘Hunger Games’ business landscape, your market conditions can change almost hourly. Who could have predicted that we would see whole industries decimated overnight? It is a very different 2020 from what most of us envisaged.
Act swiftly … Change bad decisions quickly. Admitting failure is difficult but refusing to change bad decisions is dangerous. To maintain credibility and efficacy, reverse bad decisions before it’s too late.’
Making a good decision is a lot like crossing the road
Imagine there is a large group of people standing at the traffic light, waiting for the signal to cross.
The ‘red man’ symbol is clearly still on, so it is not yet 100% safe to cross. However, the traffic light has changed from green to orange. Cars are slowing, and both lanes are still at a good distance.
At this point, some people will weigh up these factors. They will rationalise that they are fit and healthy, can run quickly, and make that decision to cross the road.
Remember that everyone else is still waiting for the traffic light to turn red, and for the ‘green man’ symbol to tell them that it is safe to cross.
While those early movers are crossing the road, they normally watch carefully for oncoming traffic. If a car unexpected comes into view, of course they are prepared to pivot, to pause, to change direction so that they cross the road safely. Holding blindly to your chosen course, with a car in your path, is not the best way to safely cross the road.
Early movers keep an open mind. It is not enough to decide that you are right. You have got to be alright with not being 100% right to get the best kind of outcome.
When you make that decision to enter a new market, keep measuring your results and monitoring the business landscape. This means you can pivot quickly to get the best ROI from the opportunity.
Back to our traffic light example.
By now, the traffic light has turned red. The cars have slowed to a stop. The ‘green man’ lights up. Most people will cross the road at this point.
Those who crossed first have already reached the other side of the road. They are forging ahead on to their next steps.
The stragglers who want 100% certainty are waiting until all the cars have complete stopped. They want to eyeball all the drivers, ensure that no car is likely to unexpectedly rev into action. Now they will cross the road.
Will they still make it across the road safely? Yes. But they are not a market leader. There is a share of the market for them, but others have gotten established in the best parts first.
- To catch up to everyone else
- To ensure they don’t get stuck on the road when the traffic lights turn green and the cars start to move forward
And those early people who moved out? They have reached the second set of traffic lights and they are already halfway across that road.
Fortune favours the brave
Maintaining and growing your market share in this ‘Hunger Games’ environment requires brave decision-making – probably with less information than you might normally wait to have.
It’s been said that ‘Fortune favours the brave’. Brave leaders step out when everyone else is still waiting. They forge ahead.
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th Century American poet
If you continue to do exactly what you did in your business pre Covid-19, you could risk missing out on the opportunities that have surfaced.
Move into your new revenue growth opportunities
Once you have mapped your market and gathered 60-70% of the information you think you need, stop for a moment to analyse the emerging revenue growth opportunities.
Pick the most likely opportunity and take action. Cross the road, move into your future.
Remind empowered leaders that you expect them to make decisions with imperfect information. They should not strive to be perfect, as perfect is the enemy of speed. Make mistakes and learn from them. Do what is right, even when it is not popular.
Decision making amid uncertainty is not easy. Business leaders cannot afford to wait when events are moving as fast as they are right now.
Keep alert to changing conditions and be open to continued pivots as you navigate this new business landscape.
Is your traffic light orange, with oncoming traffic slowing? Look right, look left, then right again. Make the decision to make a decision.
It’s time to cross over into your new revenue growth opportunities.