A close observation of business trends in Nigeria especially real estate shows a recent but compelling tilt towards ‘unknown unknowns’, apologies to Donald Rumsfeld – Former US Secretary of Defence. It is a fact that ‘known knowns’ and ‘known unknowns’ can be managed effectively through structured risk management and mitigation measures. But what we face today, even as we dovetail into 2020 looks like nothing short of full-blown uncertainty. To say one is worried is, to put it mildly, and to think 2020 is not looking any brighter, your guess is as good as mine.
Anytime you become hopeless, they say, you are helpless and since God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of sound mind, am persuaded to be optimistic (2 Timothy 1:7). Do we have cause to worry? yes, we do. The increasing and dynamic competitive imperatives we face today are one of the greatest challenges to the traditional managerial capabilities of businesses. Accelerating technological changes (Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and BlockChain, etc), social polarization (talent now is a scarce commodity), geopolitical agitations for power shift (2023 on my mind), political gridlocks (opposition is stereotyped), and increased public scrutiny of businesses (EFCC, FIRS, ICPC, etc) all point to an era of increased uncertainty and business volatility. The life span of businesses is shrinking at the speed of light due to staggering odds of failure, while growth is now harder to achieve irrespective of the indices you employ. Business competitions today are no longer between companies in related fields, but amongst ecosystems with a network of companies challenging traditional business assumptions. Yesterday’s solutions are no longer working today.
These are worrying times indeed; we worry about our current jobs, we worry about our children’s future, we worry about our security, etc. However, let us not worry about the point of fear. I am saying this because fear is the greatest enemy of mankind and can paralyze any form of action in the life of an individual. The good news is that most of the many things we fear never come to happen. Refuse therefore to be paralyzed by the spirit of fear, as you need the audacity of courage and boldness to dominate your environment. I dare say, you need much more action to reinforce your faith.
MY TAKE AWAY:
Sustaining our businesses in 2020 and even growing it is very possible.
Forecasting and planning as excellent organizational management fundamentals may be of little help in 2020 given the degree of uncertainty hovering over the Nigerian business landscape. Discovery and adaptation may be the right way to go as only businesses that are engaged in strategic anticipation, open collaborations and increased learning may be able to endure the impending hard times. Prophecy alone, am afraid, may not work this time.
Secondly, new increasing business opportunities definitely will come from digital fusion -digitizing the physical world enabled by the rapid development and penetration of artificial intelligence, the internet of things, machine learning and blockchain.
If I hear you correctly, “what is backing one person is facing someone else”. Just as these technologies are catalyzing the fourth industrial revolution, dismantling entrenched business incumbents in its trail, it is also throwing up boundless opportunities for both start-ups and bigger businesses to thrive and grow. That is only those businesses that are learning and adapting instead of complacency and living in self-denial.
As we said earlier, businesses can no longer rely solely if at all, on exploiting existing models, but should rather invest heavily in generating new ideas and continuously re-invent the business. This vitality capacity challenge can only be overcome through “self-awareness”, the development of necessary abilities and a program of disciplined choices. Current industry traditions and benchmarks need to be rejigged with ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals’ (B-HAGS) that incorporate the noble concept of failure as part of the learning curve along the business survival journey.
Last but not the least, in-built organizational resilience that considers the broader context of economics, politics, social and the entire business ecosystem is necessary to ensure that businesses endure the knocks and anticipated shocks that lie ahead. In other words, new ways of working that reorganize the work around a network of empowered teams, designed for agility and strategic innovation should be a priority in 2020 and beyond.
Wishing you better days ahead.