Take action despite uncertainty

N°214a – Synopsis (8p.) – Uncertainty
Take action despite uncertainty
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In a world in lasting crisis, the companies that fare the best are those that know how to act and learn at the same time. What operating modes should we adopt to implement this approach?

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many projects were suspended, postponed or even cancelled altogether for budgetary reasons or due to economic uncertainty. Although most business leaders now realize that they can’t simply wait for the crisis to blow over before attempting new ventures, the context isn’t favorable to taking risks. Decision-makers are faced with the following dilemma, i.e., they must continue to invest and innovate if only to ensure the survival of the business, or ideally find new growth engines. At the same time, they are driven by uncertainty and unpredictability to minimize the risks while waiting to regain their bearings.

In this difficult context, some firms continue nonetheless to launch new projects, grow and innovate, even in industries hit hard by the crisis.
Observation shows that these successful organizations have managed to change their operating practices radically. Whereas businesses used to have to plan methodically before executing new projects, and then adapt the plan if necessary depending on initial results, some have learned to move and learn simultaneously. This enables them to adapt in real time to increasingly sudden environmental shifts.
To eliminate the lag between learning and application, collective behavior and processes must be tackled simultaneously:

Integrate uncertainty into the decision-making process. Rather than waiting until every parameter is under control, you are advised to move forward immediately, and learn as you go.

Tolerate and learn from mistakes. Mistakes must be tolerated before they can serve as learning opportunities and the basis for future success.

Move from individual to collective learning. Specific operating processes must be put into place before the entire organization can take advantage of the lessons learned from individual initiatives.

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