With stock markets hitting a recent high and generating greater personal liquidity, many Canadian businesses have enjoyed a great run. As a result, they have chosen to keep their heads down – enjoying success while purposefully ignoring the craziness that has been going on in the US political situation. As business leaders, we keep moving our businesses forward, avoiding distraction and reaping as many rewards as we can during a profitable time; even though we know that staff has become very aware of the uncertainty of the US political situation with all the non-stop Facebook, Twitter and news updates.
The situation reached a new level of criticality on May 16th when the TSX stock market dropped 269 points on news that Trump could be impeached. This should serve as the wakeup call that companies need to start recognizing that they could be impacted by the disturbances happening south of the border.
As a Canadian business, we have the added threat of dealing with potential changes to the NAFTA agreement. This has been at the center of our business culture for over 20 years and now has a threat of changing. Although in the past there have been special rules to protect manufactured goods and natural resources, there now are rumblings that the US will be looking for protectionism in the areas of intellectual property rights, IT, and Services, among others….
The reality is that no one knows exactly what will happen. This is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime type of challenge. This is not a normal business problem that we typically face nor are we trained to deal with it. We can’t rely on our past experience because this has not happened before.
To add to the uncertainty, each industry has the potential to be dealt with differently so the solution to your particular issue may need to be customized.
With uncertainty comes opportunity. You may be able to make a competitive move in your industry while things are destabilized, but you need to plan for these opportunities in advance.
But how can you deal with something that is uncertain and hasn’t happened yet?
Think of it like preparing for a natural disaster like a hurricane or large tornado – all signs point to it coming, but you’re not sure exactly when it is going to hit, or what the impact will be. Your house might end up in shambles, but your neighbour up the street might be spared.
A natural tendency to prepare for a storm is to understand the facts. In business, your preparations likely start with developing a better understanding of legal, tax implications or other issues that are affected. After that, you would process and then determine what you are going to do with the information you have gathered. You can obtain all the expert opinions in the world to help you understand how to prepare for a situation, but in the end, no one knows your organization better than you and your team.
Just like you need to assess the threats and opportunities of each room that make up your house for a natural disaster, you need to need to assess the impact on each department that make up your organization.
As a senior manager and leader, you have 2 responsibilities: 1) optimize the response of your organization in the face of this new threat and 2) prepare your team for the thinking and actions that will deliver that best outcome.
While your team will be looking to you to help them weather this unpredictable storm, they have a wealth of untapped knowledge about the organization and their department that can be beneficial to consider. They know all the nooks and crannies that can potentially uncover risks and opportunities that you haven’t seen before.
On May 18th the White House gave formal notice to congress that negotiations for a new trade deal will begin on August 16. We now have less than 90 days before the storm starts rolling in….. but you still have time to plan and put steps in place to gain a competitive advantage or reduce a risk.
You need to act quickly and engage your team to get a full view of your organization to make the best decisions to deal with this – without disrupting your daily flow of business or providing unnecessary distractions. Enable your team to think through the issues, evaluate your unique situation and deliver specific plans for your company.
Once the team is aligned on the issues, you can then quickly move to address the problems when called upon.
VistaShift AI Advisor’s patented approach and unique module was designed to help each organization optimally prepare for this situation. An hour of your team’s time doing an anonymous online perspective taking exercise can make the difference between having your windows boarded up or having the storm blow your windows wide open. Let us do the leg work of quickly pulling together your team’s unique insights using perspective taking and AI to help you evaluate your unique situation, determine the risks, opportunities and specific steps to follow to successfully navigate in this uncertain time.
In the end, we all hope to weather any storm, and even if your house is spared, a new landscape will have emerged that the business world will need to adapt to. By taking the time to prepare for the storm now you’ll have a competitive advantage and transition easier. As Alexander Graham Bell said “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”.