Here’s What I Know about Uncertainty

covid-19 uncertainty
Uncertainty is scary and it’s the impetus for your most powerful ideas/options.
If you’re uncertain, you can also bet that your customers and clients are uncertain. What solutions are you creating to turn some uncertainty into certainty during the covid-19 pandemic?

Here’s what I know works:

1) Identify the things you can control 100%. Inputs, such as resources (particularly intellectual capital and personal energy), processes and methodologies, communication, offerings.

2) Avoid setting outcome goals. Outcomes are not in your hands. They really never are but in times of exceptional uncertainty this is even more true. The most persuasive among us will face skepticism, doubt, people who have no money, people who cannot make decisions due to stress and focus on filling their basic needs.

3) The most powerful question is “What does success look like?” What does helping others deal with their uncertainty, needs, or fears look like?

Practice unfettered thinking for awhile. Don’t let that critical or fearful voice on your shoulder torpedo every idea before it hits the paper or screen. Make lists, forget punctuation and grammar. Forget costs or prices or profits. Forget policies and rules. Just think and create and capture it all. Then take a break.

4) Return from your break and begin to analyze each idea.

Ask “What do we have to have to achieve this success?” Which resources (people, materials, tech, etc.) are needed to achieve this success?

The power in this order of questions is that it forces you to break out of the constraints you typically work within. You are listing everything that would make it possible to achieve this success. The opposite is to ask, “What have we got to work with?” and then fit your solutions to the available resources. That’s what limitations do. Take a break.

5) Return from your break and ask “What do we have and what do we need in order to achieve these successes? This is the time to inventory your existing resources and also make a list of what else you need. With this clarity, you can reassess your lists of potential successes and select two or three you can get to work on now.

6) Resist the habit of falling back on “we never do this” or “that will never work.” Mindsets like that are artificial limitations you impose on yourself. With so many external limitations now, it’s nearly criminal to impose unnecessary limitations from the inside.

7) Create a plan for each option:
• Who is the beneficiary? (Otherwise known as your target market, but these days it’s much better to think of people as, well, people.)
• What value are you offering to them?
• When, where and how will you deliver this value?
• What will they pay for this value?
• What’s the plan for building it, communicating it and delivering it?
• How will you track your activities? How will you measure outcomes?

You can choose to let uncertainty overwhelm and paralyze you or you can choose to create some certainty within the pervasive uncertainty. As one CEO told me, she is now realizing how her self-imposed and artificial limitations have reached the end of their useful life. She’s breaking away and building for the future, which is, in fact, certain to come.

We would love to hear what you are doing make some certainty in these uncertain times. Post your ideas in the comments. Thanks!

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