Guest column: Embracing uncertainty is the next normal

Das writes about cultivating the power of scenario thinking & managing uncertainty

New Delhi: For the last decade or so, we have often seen many business managers and leaders speak about how we are operating in and living through what we believed are uncertain times. Economic downturn. Inflation. Recovery. Recession again, followed by revival, of a period of sustained growth.

It’s a new world order where economic uncertainty has seemingly become the new normal. Many of us even started referring to this and connecting it with the acronym ‘VUCA’ to describe the more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. Digitisation, technology transformation, changing geopolitics, evolving business models, and a changing consensus on globalisation and trade have further accentuated the theory of uncertainty.

But the Covid2019 pandemic has changed–our collective calculus of uncertainty. There has never been a time, the human world may have faced such a complex situation. There have been flu pandemics. There was the 2008 financial crisis. And there have been threats and disasters with local and/or national implications: Chernobyl, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina. The Covid2019 pandemic turned out to be more global in scope, frightfully impactful on the economy and society, and more complex than any other crisis that today’s decision-makers have experienced or contemplated.

Embracing uncertainty and complexity has today assumed never-before-seen critical importance in our decision-making process.

Consumers too have started reacting to uncertainties with different coping strategies, and we as marketers will need to respond to this, and more importantly, keep this as an essential influential factor in chalking our future business strategies. The unprecedented rate at which consumer behaviour shifts is weakening the predictive power of historical data. This means predictive models built on legacy data must also be supplemented by near-real-time alternatives, acknowledging shifts and adapting to them as they happen.

Today, the power of scenario-thinking and building sensing capabilities in embracing uncertainties is the key.

There is a fine balance between the opportunities created by uncertainty and the comforts provided by certainty. Leaders who achieve the balance will unravel growth. Uncertainty can ultimately enrich our lives, or diminish them. Instead of getting intimidated by it, embrace it.

(The author is COO – TV9 Studio (digital & broadcasting), TV9 Network. The views expressed here are his own and may not subscribe to them.)

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