Future Proofing Your Business

Jennifer Cavender10.22.18

Today’s business environment is ever-changing, highly competitive and fast-paced. It is difficult to succeed in this environment if you don’t have the right tools to navigate it. With technology in a state of constant evolution, businesses can struggle to keep up with trends and stay competitive. Because the world is getting smaller and global markets have become more accessible, it is more important than ever for US companies to keep up with trends and to stay competitive.

To thrive in this changing landscape, you must develop a strategy that helps your business grow stronger with every challenge. We call this “future proofing” your business.

Become “antifragile”

Many businesses are fragile. When tough times come, they crack. The economy gets tight, a major customer or revenue line is lost, a new product release fails, or a significant lawsuit looms…plenty of businesses lose their footing and retreat. Then there are some businesses that appear strong — but it’s only because they haven’t had a situation that has hit hard enough. When the “big one” comes, it only makes the fall greater. In order to weather challenges both large and small, businesses can implement a strategy that strengthens their organization with every failure.  Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined a term for this: becoming “antifragile”.

In his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Taleb highlights how the commercial airline industry has used adversity to strengthen operations. With each airline crash, the future of air travel becomes safer. Planes now feature an indestructible “black box” that allows a thorough evaluation of the sequence of problems that led up to the crash. Equipped with this valuable information, airlines can quickly and efficiently implement technology updates and correct certain training procedures that improve the future safety of flying for all.

You can do this with your business, too.

Use “the Force” to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t

In the course of our business advisory services, we use a tool with our clients called Force Field. This tool helps businesses evaluate the core issues of any problem, focusing on the specific actions that most contribute to the problem and the specific actions that could most contribute to future success. A detailed perspective clearly identifies the positive actions that would help fix the problem so that those actions can be doubled. Conversely, it exposes negative actions that contributed to the problem so that they can be eliminated—or, at a minimum, cut in half. Once those actions are identified, we help management incorporate these steps into the company’s internal processes through a one-page plan, an internal implementation team, and accountability coaching from our advisors.

When you update an old process and train your management team to solve similar problems quickly, you are strengthening your business against future issues of any kind.

Reframe your perspective

To adequately future proof your company, you must shift away from a “business as usual” mentality. Depending on your company’s level of inherent flexibility and comfort with change, this process might be a bit of a challenge.

Here are some mindset shifts and actions to get you started:

  • See failures as opportunities for growth and improvement
  • Ask yourself, “What can I learn and how can I strengthen my business against this in the future?”
  • Do not lament the mistakes, but quickly turn them into strategic advantages or process improvements that will strengthen your business going forward

Future proofing your business will not happen overnight. It’s a layered process that involves looking closely at many aspects of your organization and rolling out plans to reinforce your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. However, with support from your teams, clear accountability processes and effective tools from your business advisory services provider, the hard things feel easy – and the future becomes more exciting.