The end is nigh . . . well perhaps not completely but we are edging ever closer to that tantalising taste of freedom. And with that brands are inevitably shifting from reactive ‘What now?’ decisions, to a more proactive ‘What next?’ stance. Indeed, many will shift to a process of trying to predict how the future will be and work backwards to adjust business strategy and structure.
Whilst this may sound pretty logical, it is a big mistake. Don’t worry, we are going to tell you why . . .
Making accurate predictions is impossible.
There is only one accurate prediction we can make about the future; and that is all predictions will be inaccurate.
Sure, we can review comparable past events and assume this one will play out in a similar way. Or we could note how consumer behaviours have changed during the pandemic and assume that trend will continue. It might, it might not; No one knows.
Think back over recent months, years even (remember Trump and Brexit?) and realise that all future predictions are ultimately speculation based on opinion and assumption.
Assumptions are very, very dangerous.
Truth time: generally speaking, you are the worst person to appraise your brand, business, and market. You spend 60+ hours a week thinking about it. Your customers do not think about you for even 1% of that. Your perception is far too tainted by personal experience to be objective, and therefore (honestly) it’s useless.
And so, when entering the process of future planning, assumptions become fact and change is implemented with completely blinkered confidence. Through a combination of saying these assumptions enough times, and confirmation bias (we want them to be true), this happens regularly, with devastating results.
Negative feelings = negative thoughts and behaviour
Negative thoughts cannot coexist with positive thoughts in one’s mind. You cannot attempt to plan for the future with a mindset of fear. It’s why, in this context, even consumer research can’t help. You cannot ask someone how they will behave in the future, because their response is based on how they feel now.
EXPERIENCE - EMOTION - FEELING - THOUGHT - BEHAVIOUR
It’s always in that order, in real time.
You get stuck in a reactive frame of mind.
If you look to make predictions about the future and work backwards you are stuck in a fear-driven, efficiency orientated frame of mind.
“How should we change what we are already doing, based on this or that assumption?”
Traditional business planning cycles are systemic in cultivating this style of planning. It is dangerous in normal times, and it is even more so right now.
Case in point; ever wonder why new leadership tends to drive transformational change? It’s rarely because they are more competent than their predecessor, but the fact they are looking at the ‘problem’ with fresh eyes.
So what is the answer?
LET IT GO.
Let go of the past and view the problem with fresh eyes. Like you are just starting out. A blank piece of paper. A start from scratch scenario plan. It is a subtle but significant shift in perspective.
Suddenly you aren’t starting with fear-driven (inaccurate) assumptions. You aren’t working backwards for incremental gains or even survival. You are working with the market reality presented to you right now and formulating an opportunistic proactive plan to succeed.
Some of you reading may think I’ve lost the plot at this stage…
“But we already have a business! We already have a plan, and partnerships etc. And we can’t just ignore external trends!”
Of course you can’t and I’m not advocating you do. I’m simply suggesting you frame your mindset to look up, out and forwards, rather than down, in and backwards.
Face today’s very real challenge with positivity by shifting your perspective and being radically open minded to change.