The author of the “Black Swan Theory” (BST) Nassim Taleb discusses the ways of dealing with the major high-profile events and cataclysmic changes. Nassim Taleb’s recommendations are especially important today in order to address these changes effectively and adjust your plans for the future.
Here are five essential steps you can follow to recalibrate your strategy…
Revise your strategic vision … carefully
The value of the BST is not in the fact that we got a tool to predict the future unexpected events (in the word of famous strategist General Colin Powell – “unknown unknown”); but it is in the ways how we should handle these events and adjust our process of achieving our strategic goals. The recent history suggest that even large unexpected BST events are not the end of the world: very often they are just an opening of new opportunities. Therefore, it is imperative to have visualized mapping and proper strategic plans on the first place. If you properly map your strategic framework – by collecting enough information about your positions, competitive advantage and disadvantage, your resources (hard and soft) and all other elements – you can draw up very useful charts and tables. Usually I suggest to my students to draw a single large strategic chart (visualizing it in elaborative blueprint, log-frame or a map) rather than simply writing out a long laundry-list of the variables. Moreover, regular assessment of what works and what does not – using the technique called problem tree or any other similar brainstorming method – should be part of your routine in redefining and adjusting your vision and goals.
Outline steps in your strategic process
The application of BST implies that we should not abandon our strategic plans even in the context of unpredictable changes (e.g. my former student-business startupper aims to get his MBA from one of the top-20 universities in the world); but we have to develop a new process (road) in getting there (e.g. now the startupper changed the process (road) planning to find an online micro-MBA from his dream university so when time is right he is ready to move to the campus of that university).
Indeed, when you plan to achieve your strategic vision or make an adjustment to your vistion, you should also plan changes in the implementation process prioritizing what can work in the current specific environment around you today and now. Your strategies require not only a vision, but also clear understanding of the implementation process. One of the ways for adequate planning of the execution process is a five-step action matrix, which includes specific steps (setting, planning, assessing, mobilizing and executing). In sum, when you plan your strategies/yours changes – you should also plan changes in the implementation process prioritizing what can work better in your current environment.
Deconstruct your actions into short- and long-term goals
All textbooks on strategies teach us that even big unexpected changes around us should not torpedo our long-term goals. However, these changes should trigger appropriate responses – our adjustment of short-term goals. For example, the ultimate dream of my former student-startupper is to establish a highly successful innovative startup (what he calls his “unicorn company”); therefore, he effectively deconstructs/rearranges his short-term goals and steps in achieving the long-term objective.
Indeed, moving forward requires striking a right balance between the two – the long- and short-term objectives. Incorporating strategic thinking and then identifying short-term efforts, actions and paths (e.g., acquiring good knowledge of the innovation project management cycle during the MBA educational process) in achieving your strategic long-term goals (e.g., launching your bright innovative idea into a successful unicorn startup) will help you to move in the right direction step by step, goal by goal.
Plan the effective information and communication flows
Long time ago I heard an ancient proverb – “if you want to go fast – go alone; if you want to go far – go with your friends”. Indeed, our century is often called the information or Information Communication Technology (ICT) century for a reason. Modern ICTs allow us to effectively management of information flows in all directions and building networks/making new friends. In order to establish your Carta Magna of dealing with challenges and receive support from like-minded people, it is crutual to establish systematic procedures and channels for the inflow of essential and relevant information to your desk to be able to use this information in the implementation of real-life activities (e.g. building your uniquely personalized system for collecting information about internships, summer schools or MBAs). In addition, there is a need for a very effective outflow of information about your professional and personal success and even small results (like raising $1000 for a local children’s hospital). Your profile built in one of social media outlets is best channels of communication information outflow about you. Regularly updating (preferably weekly or bi-weekly) your personal and/or professional profiles and sites gets the word out to the world, informing about your achievements like graduation, internships, jobs, or crowdfunding of your bright idea.
Mobilizing power of technologies
The latest trend in the world of personal management is integration of apps, software and various online platforms in the strategic planning process. The opportunities are endless! For example, there are dozens of ICT products designed for easing and systematizing planning and implementation – from simple voice-commands to extremely sophisticated smart assistants to Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered systems. It is not only cool to stay organized and prepared with your personal online ICT assistant (hey, how many your classmates have a smart personal secretary?), it is really a step up in better management of your personal calendar with regular reminders about all your major meetings, actions and activities. Easy to say, but apparently not easy to be among one percent of students/young professionals around the world who have mastered working with an assistant who reminds them from their very own gadget, “time to go and save the planet!”
PS. The coronavirus pandemic is like the Sword of Damocles hangs over our strategic goals and everyday plans, in both short- and long-term perspective; but we can use the BST tools to deal with this challenge. First, in this critical time, it is especially important not to panic or toss your strategies out the window. Second, it is moment to make appropriate changes and adjustments to get ready for fast sailing when the moments and the winds of opportunity are right. Third, it is time to recalibrate your skills for new realities by mastering the power of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and innovations to deal with the new realities of the global pandemic.