How to lead for an uncertain future?

Apr 6th, 2020

Be it Startups or MNCs, there are times when campaigns fail or smart prototypes and MVPs on the verge of getting implemented gets canceled at the last moment. There might be a global crisis like the COVID-19, whose scale and the impact could never have been predicted.

Product innovation today has tools, cheat codes, growth hacks, and tests but no fixed innovation blueprint. So, how to lead during times of uncertainty?

Leaders who ‘know-it-all’ bag a lot of praise. But during times of vulnerability, the heap of ‘know-it-all’ memory does not help. In this blog post, we share some tips to help leaders dive into unknown territories of business with ease. 

Get in the ease with – ‘I do not know’

It’s scary to say ‘I do not know’ when you’re a leader because your entire team is looking up to you. But by being vulnerable and transparent about the failure, you gain trust; and if lucky maybe even team retention. 

Once you outstrip the vulnerability of ‘I know’, solutions will unexpectedly pour in. Being just sincere enough to admit that you do not know will help you and your team overcome the restlessness that comes with failure.

Generate and Brainstorm some Bad and some Utopian ideas 

Gather all the members of your company, and divide them into two equal batches. Get Batch #1 generate bad ideas, extremely weird ones which can degrade the business sales; and get Batch #2 generate Utopian ideas, extremely idealistic or groundbreaking ideas that cease to exist yet. Motivate your team to not confine ideas into right or wrong, but simply come up with ideas beyond logic. 

In the end, when everybody presents their idea, do not just praise the utopian ideas, but also bad ideas. This activity is sure to open a different doorway of clarity for you and your team. 

Turn your failure into assets:

Did you lose a million due to the mistake of one employee? Did you fail because of the lack of feedback from users or your team?  Did you fail because your team left you? Did your business rise and fall like WeWork

The good news is that you can turn your business’s bad press into good press. You can do this by sharing all these failures in the form of case studies and uploading it over your company blog. You can start with titles like: ‘How we lost 1 lakh, subscribers/customers, in one day!’, or ‘Missteps in our culture that blinded us for long’, etc.

This strategy might not help your business growth at flash speed, but will certainly help you retain the brand reputation and employee retention.

Switch from growth mode to survival mode 

Teams are always encouraged to love the ideas and projects they’re working on. But during the uncertain times, try changing the context. Do this by shifting from ‘the best strategy’ to ‘Just enough strategy’. This will also help you shift the mindset from ‘We will execute like this’ to ‘We could execute like this’.  

One of the best ways, to begin with, is to conduct a Design Sprint for your product. This is a surefire way to evaluate ideas before you and your team get too attached to it. Running a Design Sprint is a flash speed approach to find out if a product is worth developing, or if a campaign is worth the effort, or if your approach is really valid. 

And still, if these tips don’t work for you, you go right for a walk, exhibitions, or any creative experience. Undergoing new experiences never fails to bring new insights. 

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