We’ve all experienced some form of business surprises this past year. There are actually two different kinds of surprises in business — external threats and predictable surprises. It’s time to assess which ones are avoidable and start planning for predictable success in the future.

But first, what exactly are external threats and predictable business surprises?

External Threats

The first are those we can’t predict: a new technology, an unanticipated move by a competitor, a new regulation or even a global pandemic. The antidote to these is to remain nimble, maintain a frequent strategic planning rhythm, and push authority and decision-making down through the organization so that employees and departments can pivot as quickly as possible.

Predictable Surprises

business owner discovering predictable success

The second category of surprises shouldn’t be surprises at all. Most leaders treat these as surprises when, in fact, they are preventable if the right practices are put in place.

Here are some examples of surprises in this second category and the common reasons they occur:

  1. An employee’s performance is poor – the wrong person is in the role (skill or knowledge gap), they weren’t adequately onboarded, or they were not provided with the resources to do a good job. It could also be an indication of low employee engagement.
  2. Shrinking margins, lack of demand for a firm’s offerings – poor positioning, lack of differentiation, unclear messaging in the market. Could also be indicative of a lack of relationship or insight into what clients need or broken customer service processes.
  3. Missed goals or targets — no metrics in place or goals set, lack of progress tracking, or even absence of a strategy that defines goals and targets.
  4. A key employee leaves unexpectedly — this is often a lack of attention to culture or a poor relationship with their manager.

Every business leader wants predictable success. And many of the surprises that occur can be eliminated by putting in place the disciplines of execution, a set of practices that will make your business more predictable. In this five-part Predictable Business blog series, we’ll explore those practices and behaviours.

How to Achieve More Predictability

how to achieve business predictability

For more than twenty years we’ve helped companies grow. In that time, we’ve seen and learned a few things that separate the best from the rest. In fact, within all regions and industries, there are some organizations that outpace their competition year after year. There are always winners and losers. So, it begs the question, what are these organizations doing differently?

All winning companies have one common characteristic. Execution. They all set an intention or a goal, and then take action. It’s not enough to have a bright idea, a clever strategy, a unique offering, or a terrific value proposition. Yes, these are important, but the ability to turn the clever strategy into a clear plan, and then execute it in such a way that an organization moves toward a desired future state is what separates great from the pack. Execution is the missing link. Long-time Harvard Business School professor had this to say: 

‘We found the perfect strategy’ ranks with ‘And they lived happily ever after’ as a perpetual myth. 

– Rosabeth Moss Kanter

We have identified four themes that capture the patterns we have seen working with winning companies—those who execute on their goals—and their leadership teams. They have all recognized that:

  1. It’s A Choice
    Winning through execution.
  2. It’s A Long-Term Commitment
    Purpose as a driver of strategy.
  3. People Trump Everything
    Finding and developing top talent.
  4. Leaders Lead Change
    Guidance through the change valley.

Stay tuned for the next four blogs in our Predictable Business five-part blog series. Each blog article will be covering one of the four themes listed above so you can better equip yourself to reach predictable success.

Next Steps

If you’re eager to start today, you can download our full guide now to start learning how to achieve greater predictability in your business with bonus access to an assessment quiz. This will help showcase how ready you and your organization are to thrive in these times of uncertainty, identify some areas of opportunity, and contains further advice with some suggested action steps.

Downloaded the guide and ready for a more customized plan? The Results team wants to help! Book a chat with a member of our team for professional advice to improve business strategy and execution.