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How to Prepare Your Company to Roll With the Punches

Signs of business success, like market leadership, can be deceptive. It’s tempting to believe there’s nowhere else to go once you’ve reached the top. But market disruptions have the power to change a company’s dynamics, sometimes demanding an instant response. The inability to adjust may create additional challenges and undesirable outcomes, including outright business failure.

Leaders may know change is inevitable, but implementing adaptable processes isn’t always so simple. Remaining agile is a critical part of your company’s long-term success. At the same time, you need to put the correct procedures in place. You want to support agility, risk mitigation, and some sense of stability. Here are four ways you can help your business roll with the punches.

1. Combine Risk Management With Governance and Compliance

You’re one step ahead if your business has a formal risk management program. Surprisingly, some companies don’t have mitigation plans for plausible threats. When a risk emerges, employees respond on the fly. While this approach might work out, it usually causes undue stress and may lead to preventable mistakes.

Official risk management programs reduce these possibilities by giving employees direction. These processes can’t anticipate every threat, but they do provide guidance for those most likely to happen. Still, risk management programs that remain separate from a company’s governance and compliance efforts may be insufficient. When these processes stay isolated, it’s easier to miss connections between them.

Integrated governance, risk, and compliance programs reveal how each area impacts the others. Also known as GRC, these combined procedures strengthen guardrails by increasing transparency among staff. A company can also use GRC tools to sync formerly separate processes. Looking at GRC holistically prevents organizations from getting caught off guard. If there’s a sudden change in a law, streamlined communication ensures all impacted departments can spring into action.

2. Build Versatile Skill Sets

It’s common for new hires to be a little green. They may have most of the skills they need to do the job. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity for talent development. Even employees who’ve been in a role for years have abilities they can grow. Most companies have training programs to support a range of staff members’ needs.

Traditional talent development models tend to assume specific skills are desirable. They run on the idea of linear career progression. Conventional training programs also presume current positions will be there tomorrow. But these assumptions create obstacles to organizational adaptability when it’s time to match skill sets with business demands.

A skills-based model uses targeted reskilling and upskilling instead. This approach prepares existing employees for new or modified roles. Say your organization is in the manufacturing industry. Artificial intelligence, already reshaping staff members’ jobs, stands to usher in additional changes down the road. Reskilling and upskilling workers will prevent future labor gaps while facilitating the rapid implementation of new industry standards.

3. Track Changes in Consumer Behaviors

You might think you know what your customers want. After all, they’re currently buying what you have to offer. However, you could be over-relying on the familiar adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The problem with this line of thinking is consumer behaviors shift in response to changes in their environments.

Yes, some predictability does exist. For example, mass markets have basic needs like shelter, food, and transportation. It’s the ways consumers prefer to fulfill their needs and wants that can evolve with other transformations. Technology, for instance, disrupted home entertainment. Leaders who didn’t adapt to these market trends saw their companies fold.

On the other hand, business models with built-in agility embraced shifting consumer behaviors as they advanced with new tech developments. As high-speed internet availability increased, households wanted more convenience. Paying a flat fee for access to online movies became more desirable than visiting a store to rent them. Companies can tweak business models appropriately by tracking consumers’ responses to environmental changes and innovations.

4. Keep Key Analyses Current

As a business leader, you may already depend on decision-making tools like a SWOT analysis. While determining your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is necessary, you don’t want the data to become stale. Some historical information may be useful, but it’s probably irrelevant in disruptive environments.

Maybe your company has been one of the few internet providers in a rural market for decades and faced little competition. Yet recent government initiatives have made infrastructure investments for competitors with household names more affordable. They’re moving into the area and bringing innovative tech resources with them. If you haven’t been staying on top of such developments, you may be unable to keep up. There’s a good chance you won’t be able to offer the same options to customers.

Ideally, you want to revisit the information feeding your analysis methods every six to 12 months. But even this might not be frequent enough in highly disruptive environments. You might need to develop pivot strategies and rapid decision trees. These models leverage real-time data so you can change course if you determine it’s the right move. Having plans in your back pocket can also reduce confusion since you’ll be able to communicate the how and why.

The Punches Will Come — Are You Ready for Them?

If you’re in business, you’re going to deal with the unexpected. Incorporating agile processes creates resilience to a wide range of risks, even if they’re somewhat unpredictable. Some of those methods include taking holistic approaches to threats, such as GRC programs. Others recognize the advantages of using real-time data in analysis and planning. Remaining flexible lets you efficiently manage change and make well-considered judgments of which actions you must take.