I’ve heard this quote many times in my life and I have used it liberally with my teams. I believe that it is a variation of a quote by Louis Pasteur. Dwight Eisenhower said, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Both of these quotes highlight the necessity for preparation.
Today, business leaders (at least the good ones) are trying to think ahead and to prepare for what comes after today’s crisis. Getting through challenging times is much less difficult if you have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you need to do to arrive at that destination.
But… How do you prepare for a shockingly uncertain future?
I believe that the answer is to employ strategy development principles, frameworks, and methodologies, coupled with deep thinking and brainstorming. And, most importantly, I think that the time to be doing this is right now.
Sure, the exigencies of addressing problems like store closings, supply chain disruption, consumer fear, and the requirement for our teams to work remotely, are important challenges that deserve our attention. But we must set-aside time, resources, and energy, to work through strategy development to ensure that we will be prepared when these opportunities arise.
The strategy development process includes a web of concepts, principles, frameworks, tools, and processes. Many of these are complex and arcane, but some, like the venerable SWOT analysis, are easy to understand and to use.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and subsequently, the opportunities and threats associated with them is the easy part. Thinking through this exercise for other market participants such as your competitors is also important. And, don’t forget those elements that are often thought of as “uncontrollables,” such as government regulation, the economy, weather, technology, and market trends.
Try to use Sun Tzu’s principle of avoiding strength and attacking weakness, and the corollary of this, which is to defend your weakness from their strength. If you effectively map your strengths against your adversary’s weaknesses, you create opportunities. On the other hand, if your adversary uses his strength against your weaknesses, you experience threats.
Let’s think ahead and spend some of our time and energy to plan for the future so that we are ready to welcome lady luck into our arms due to our preparedness.