When I ask colleagues and users of the Engine Shed about their expectations for 2018, you get this look which seems to have a mix of fear and excitement, with a frequent ‘I have no idea’ in response.
The fact is that we are now getting used to there being very little certainty – political eruptions across the globe happen seemingly every day, corporate takeovers, failures and explosions of growth are more likely to be on the morning news than before, and both inflation and interest rates are now on (relatively) steep curves.
Brexit permeates, with the effect that no-one really knows what will be happening around the labour market or trade tariffs, and we have a government all-consumed by the complexity of Brexit and, dare I say it, some announcements of policy are not hugely well thought through?
This all sounds like a terrible environment to run a business in – but what it does remind us to consider, is how resilient we are as both businesses and leaders.
• What are the assumptions in our business plan? What if…?
• Have we got the right team around us, for resilience to ‘storms’, to adapt to a changing market, or to grasp new opportunities?
• Have we got the right skills and diversity on our board?
• Have we got the right strategy in place?
What does a strategy need to look like? If the environment is changing so much and our best defence to change is as much the ability to read and adapt to change, is it worth writing a detailed strategy? We have just reviewed our Engine Shed strategy in light of this and concluded that being clear as to our purpose is the key thing, along with our values and principles, and then establishing a framework by which we will evaluate opportunities that arise. We’re not defining what we’ll be doing in two years time (other than opening Engine Shed 2 of course!)
This is our response to the environment we’re in – an agile, or emergent, strategy, and we’ll be launching it later this month. Let’s see where it takes us.