“Your plan for the future will work, until it won’t. Plan accordingly!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Some years back, I started using the phrase ‘volatility is the new normal’ quite frequently. As much as I hate the phrase “new normal” in the context of Covid-19, I still often run with the concept when describing the future, and what to do about it.
Way back in 2007, I covered the idea in a list of 10 key trends for the future by specifically framing it around the concept of connectivity risk:
“Volatility is the new normal: increasing connectivity increases the likelihood of cascading failures. Risk management is becoming more important, and more complex. Fewer organizations pay serious attention to the complexity of risk, leading to greater potential for short, sharp economic shocks.
It became a key issue during the 2008-09 recession as organizations had to learn how to align to rapidly changing market and financial circumstances; took on strength again with the 2016 election and the ‘era of insanity‘ which ensued, and obviously once again with the pandemic.
It has certainly become a key and critical leadership issue because, in today’s time of massive uncertainty, future-focused leaders want to make sure they are aligning themselves to fast-paced trends – and insight to navigate this complex new world. Accepting volatility goes to one of my key points about how to align to an uncertain future: when hit by the unknown, you can panic and act irrationally; freeze and do nothing, or respond with a relentless focus on innovation and adaptation.
It’s not natural, though, to accept volatility. Many people are engineered to freeze in the face of uncertainty – the deer in the headlights syndrome! The fact is, business hates uncertainty — and many react by turning off their innovation engines, waiting to see what happens next. But that’s a bad strategy – because opportunities are missed, time is lost, and the future moves on!
History has taught us, over and over again, that those who are aggressive with action, and who align themselves to future trends in times of uncertainty, are those who win in the long run.
Who do you choose to be?