The Case for Resilience in the Growth Journey

By Mark Audino, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer

Complexity is Here to Stay

Business complexity has grown exponentially especially over the last three years. Force multipliers like the COVID pandemic, supply chain constraints, and geopolitical tensions have piled on top of the normal challenges of market volatility, mass commoditization, and stretch growth goals.

Complexity runs even deeper when the velocity of change is factored. Consequently, business strategies and management models have been tested beyond their normal abilities for planning, problem-solving, and optimization. And the leading indicators signal stressful headwinds for the foreseeable future.

Resilience operates in two contexts. One is the ability to recover from adverse events and conditions. The other is the ability to adapt. The high road to take is thinking, planning, and managing in such a way that there will never be a need for recovery.

In Crisis is Opportunity

Insightful commentaries concerning this rising complexity frequently mention the need for resilience. Despite its need to be inherent in problem-solving processes and leadership practices, it took a crisis like the COVID pandemic to move it back to center stage. Admittedly, COVID was an unexpected, uncontrollable force in the extreme. But it took businesses to school. Live and learn.

Prescriptive business articles have been pointing to resilience as one of the gaps in both strategic planning and managerial skill sets. For leader personas, organization management models, strategy, and execution, resilience is one of the most crucial attributes for winning. Resilience-themed principles like what-if war gaming and forward-thinking pivot strategies are now stronger pillars in the planning process helping to counter unpredictability. 

How Does Resilience Fit In?

Resilience operates in two contexts. One is the ability to recover from adverse events and conditions. The other is the ability to adapt. The high road to take is thinking, planning, and managing in such a way that there will never be a need for recovery.

While not purely disassociated from recovery, adapting is the more positive aspect of resilience because it can function in an act-forward context. It implies upside for internalization and self-assessment and analyzing situations proactively so that adapting when necessary is successful. In this content, adapting leads to contingency planning so that the probability of having to recover from anything is far less.

Opportunity Brings Challenges

The real power in adaptability is that it can be focused on opportunistic goals. But truth is that the intense pressure to achieve business results and many executive compensation plans cause conservatism to be codified into both strategy and management behavior. Conservatism often masquerades as focus and focus often implies short-termism. Performance lookouts of 90 days at best are short-termism’s playing field. With such an acute level of “now” factoring into the managerial practices of some business models, resilience is often operationalized in the abstract and more prevalent in the bounce-back process when things don’t go as planned.

Daylight Ahead

Among the most significant opportunities arising from the range of recent crises is adapting forward by building better strategies. However, many so-called strategies read more like a plan for a plan, or a mixture of goals and objectives, or a list of tactics.

Bona-fide, actionable strategy is different. It will answer some difficult but seemingly easy questions very precisely and back the answers with fact-based rationale and evidence. All assumptions will be rigorously pressure-tested. Skepticism in strategy planning will be viewed as a virtue that prevents failing forward.

  • What does your company do, exactly?
    • What promises are the company’s products making?
    • How will your customer experience be differentiating and remarkable?
  • Where will the company win, exactly?
    • Are you differentiating by customer problems that your products serve best and how so?
    • Who will receive higher than average value from the advantages that your products deliver?
  • Why will customers choose you?
    • What do you do better, and what is better worth to your customers?
    • What factual evidence backs your claims of better?
  • How will you win?
    • Why are the specific marketing and sales tactics used to generate and convert demand and why were they chosen over other options?
    • How will the manner of executing your tactics attract and transfer confidence to buyers quickly?
    • How will you eliminate competition from consideration sooner?
  • What is the value of winning?
    • How will you know you are winning?
    • What “Early Warning System” is in place to monitor the leading indicators of market change and performance so that you are ready to adapt before they materialize?
    • Will you remain a company or become a brand?
    • What is the “end-point vision”?

Adapting as a Strategy Planning Principle

As implied by these questions, the companies that win today know what problems they need to solve and what success looks like. Good strategy notwithstanding, assumptions and unforeseen conditions are what kills. So, knowing the company’s end-point vision serves as the platform for adaptive planning. It will help you know what you can control and how to prepare for what you can’t.

Adapting as a Leadership Principle

Adaptive planning requires adaptive leadership. Highly adaptive leaders see more clearly beyond the next bend in the road and they prepare more intently for likely bumps. They create high-trust working environments that inspire safer and more creative ideation and initiative. They manage with empathy. They are stronger and more confident. They are brave. They manage with we call Meta-Brains.

Leaders born with Meta-Brains are a rarity. But there’s a world of opportunity for everyone regardless of role across an enterprise to develop one. When Meta-Brains apply their inner strengths to management philosophy and collaborative business processes winning becomes habitual.

Just as in adaptive business planning that examines shortfalls and pivots, a responsible leader discovers their honest self and identifies what may be holding them back from being the exemplary leader that they aspire to be. Peeling back several levels of why the barriers are there is an integral part of this self-appraisal process.

With that foundation of what and why in the Meta-Brain development journey, the process of adapting sets the course for positive behavior change that unlocks the ability to lead purposefully and winningly. And a Meta-Brain is developed in the context of setting the goals one wants to achieve personally and professionally.

The science underlying Meta-Brain development has been proven in longstanding research. But not until now has anyone cracked the code of such effective self-change. We invite you to check out Meta-Brain Leader™ and find out more about how and why it works and delivers on today’s resilience imperative.

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