The current economic, political and social environment is exceptionally volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It has become increasingly difficult to develop strategies for success when there are new challenges threatening an enterprise’s survival all the time.

One of the most effective methods leaders can employ to navigate in this unstable business climate is to take a B.O.L.D. Approach. This four-point framework will help leaders focus on gaining the insight and critical skills needed to thrive.

Business strategy – grow the organization with purpose and prosperity

Strong leaders need to rethink their approaches to planning. Stop engaging in strategic planning focused on fun and/or bonding events with vision-quests about idealistic wishes for the future. This results in ineffective plans and reports that collect dust.

Focus instead on grounding all planning efforts by gaining the information and insight needed to develop effective business strategies. Leverage all available emerging opportunities and minimize the risks that an uncertain business landscape creates for the enterprise.

Those who thrive in an unstable environment focus on understanding the potential future of evolving trends. So, what next? Let go of old ideas. Coalesce business strategies around innovation and adaption.

Build sustainable success on a viable future that is grounded in a full understanding of the situation, not on wishful thinking. Manage transitions effectively by hiring more sophisticated talent to match the company’s evolving needs. Consider how to leverage new opportunities to enhance operation and profitability.

Opportunities – uncover potential to achieve results

Effective strategic planning in turbulent times requires a deep assessment of market opportunities. This environment is driven by significant market forces that influence success and long-term potential. These market forces impact a company’s lifecycle and the ongoing value of the product or service offered to consumers. Leaders must fully understand the impact of market forces that determine their ability to survive and thrive.

Staying close to the target market is crucial to long-term success. But market needs, wants and desires change over time. Leaders must understand how their market is changing and why. To remain feasible, determine what is needed to change to meet those evolving market needs.

There are eight key market forces impacting most businesses today: shifting demographics, competitive actions, fluid economic conditions, unstable capital markets, governmental interference impacting regulations and reimbursement, technology evolution, workforce skills and capabilities, and industry changes as organizations adapt to these forces and generational shifts.

Leaders have little to no control over these market forces. Yet they must continually adapt and adjust their strategies to respond to them.

Leadership – lead with confidence and effectiveness

It takes many, many hours to master a skill or hone expertise. Don’t expect to be an effective leader in the beginning. It takes time. Building insight to effectively navigate stormy strategic waters will take time too.

Asking the right questions is the foundation of an effective strategic mindset. Yet learning to ask the right questions is extremely difficult because most people only ask superficial questions that have easy answers. Asking challenging questions allows for a deepened understanding of the impact of each market force and its influence on long-term potential for success.

Effective leaders in turbulent times are not afraid to listen to divergent perspectives. They understand that their ability to take corrective action before things go completely haywire requires candor from their teams and a full understanding of the market forces.

Confident leaders use objective advisers to get to the truth and to push their teams. Look for real expertise that has proven results. Stay away from advisers offering strong sales hype and marketing sizzle. They can do lasting damage to an enterprise.

Decision making – gain the clarity needed to thrive

Effective decision making in an uncertain and unstable world begins with a desire for clarity. Gaining clarity requires a complete and candid understanding of the situation. Truth provides information. Well-researched information gives insight. Insight provides the clarity needed to set the right priorities and focus teams on the most critical activities impacting their success.

Leaders must make sure they are not operating under a false set of assumptions that were correct at one time but have not been updated to reflect the current situation. If their assumptions are wrong, the ability to make good decisions will be severely limited by the skewed viewpoint.

It is critical that leaders reassess their assumptions about the future. Getting the right information for effective decision-making is essential. Look for more than superficial answers to the critical issues. Be willing to invest the time and money to bring in a fresh and different point of view to discover the truth.

The value of taking a B.O.L.D. Approach?

By taking a B.O.L.D. Approach, leaders will integrate an action plan for uncertainty into every facet of their strategic mindset. By asking challenging questions to understand current and evolving situations, leaders will build their confidence that they are developing the business strategies to enhance their success. They will uncover the potential in their markets. They will be more confident and effective leaders. They will make better decisions.

As a result, others will be more confident in following their lead. If leaders demand more of themselves and their teams, they too will think more strategically, become more effective leaders, make better decisions and achieve results designed to create lasting success for their enterprises.

Jill Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker and an award-winning management consultant. Johnson helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. For more information on Jill Johnson, please visit

jill johnsonJill Johnson
Johnson Consulting Services