Adapting in the Face of Uncertainty

The internet is ablaze with the reasons why dealing with uncertainty or even failure is actually good for a business. It is an opportunity to learn and to take a corrective course. The founding principle of Lean Startup is Build-Measure-Learn. Most of us agree in principle; however, I suspect we only think in terms of the product or service our business is providing.

A personal example, I decided to leave a serial career of employment to start my own business. On my way to the office to drop off my company assets, my car was hit from behind, while I was driving. Thus began a series of what I call “Murphy’s grudge” came about. I am out a car. I have whiplash. I have no income. I am given so much medication, I am rendered incapable of productive positive momentum in my new business. Then the hot water in my house turns cold. Could be the bad breaker, which could have caused a fire. Could be I need to replace my water heater, which requires additional expense to get up to code. There is more; however, I will spare you. I am sure you get the point.

The popular best practice of fast failure to learn, doesn’t always account for the uncertainties that happens in life. What lesson did I learn? You don’t have control over everything in your life nor your business. Yes all of the above, plus the physical therapy, has set me back on starting my business. Was I prepared for this setback? No. As a business can you prepare for everything that could happen? No, uncertainty is the norm.

What has happened while I have been setback, is I have more time to think. Actually slowdown from “doing” and just let my mind settle into the challenges presented. I started to think about past and present similarities in my challenges. I noticed that it was easier when I was an employee to simply focus on the problem being something that a team would have to address. I could recommend a course of action, however ultimately it was not my problem to solve alone.

When you work for a company and you wonder, why can’t we do what I think we should do? If you are in a public company, you have many stakeholders to answer to regarding making “your numbers”. If you are in a private company, you also have stakeholders to answer to in one manner or another. If you are a sole proprietor, you still have to pay your bills. Suddenly you have to step back and look at the bigger picture. You look at the business as a whole.

In order to balance with the uncertainty, every business has to become agile and adaptive. Our ability to adapt to the circumstances that surround us, and still keep sight of our vision, is what determines our success.

As a successful executive or entrepreneur, you look at the challenges your business encounter and determine how to handle the situation better in the future. You make decisions about how to correct the path for the business to succeed. Given any point of failure, you can accept what you learn and steer your business onto the right path to maintain a positive momentum.

As I move forward, I accept what has happened. I have learned this will not be the only bump in the road I will face. I will now adapt and find my path back to positive forward momentum. How about you? Have you applied what you have learned from your challenges and taken the necessary steps to get back on the right path?  Failure to learn and adapt is your ultimate risk.