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Do You Have (a) Clear 20/20 Vision? – Part 1

By October 16, 2019No Comments

Every Optometrist’s dream – clear 20/20 vision.  As we approach the year 2020, how clear is your vision of 2020 for your company and for you?

At a macro exogenous level, our vision of 2020 is not clear:

  • 16 year old Swedish Greta Thunberg addressed the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019, stressing dire consequences to future generations if the world’s leaders didn’t take immediate global action. The next day, Donald Trump addressed the UN saying “The future does not belong to globalists.  The future belongs to patriots.”
  • We Canadians aren’t sure of what kind of political/economic climate we will be facing after our Federal Election on 21 October 2019.
  • Boris Johnson still can’t tell us what (Great?) Britain and the rest of the EU will look like on 1 November, 2019.
  • The President of the United States may or may not be impeached.
  • The US-Canada-Mexico (Trade) Agreement (formerly NAFTA) was signed in November 2018, but has still not been ratified and is not in force. Trade wars between China and the US and Japan and South Korea are escalating and tariffs and sanctions are increasing.  Political tensions and military actions in the Persian Gulf, Syria, Hong Kong and parts of South America threaten global stability.
  • Manufacturing growth is slowing in the US and China. The Oil & Gas and the Automotive industries are going through crises of future identity.  The retail sector and the travel industry are both dealing with challenges to their business model from the tech sector at a time when consumers, corporations and governments are waking up to the threats of cyber-attacks.  Bond markets are experiencing inverted yield curves, and we are seeing negative interest rates in some jurisdictions.

So, if we can’t get a clear vision of 2020 (and beyond) at a macro level, how can we get a clear vision for our companies and ourselves? As leaders we realize that throwing up our hands and capitulating is not an option.  It is our obligation to our organizations and to the livelihoods of our employees to lead from the front.  We leaders must learn to distinguish between risk and uncertainty.  In risk, you can predict the possibility of a future outcome while in uncertainty you cannot.  Risks (e.g. delays in new product launches, or the loss of a major account) can be measured, quantified and managed, while uncertainty (e.g. sanctions imposed on trade with countries like Iran, China or Turkey by the US which “should” be adhered to by US allies) cannot.  So, it is important to begin by understanding the macro marketplace uncertainties.  Only then can we assess the risks, cast a motivating but believable vision, and provide the tools and resources to bring that vision into reality.

Step 1 – Understand the Macro Marketplace Uncertainties

The best place to start is to read at least 5 reliable economic forecasts, as well as surveys of business and consumer confidence.  These can be sourced on-line from all the major banks, the Conference Board of Canada, the Bank of Canada, the CFIB and other similar institutions.  These usually come out late in the year, in early December – the more recent the better.  You will want to compare not just the economic growth projections, but also the underlying assumptions regarding politics, international trade, employment levels, demographic shifts, etc.  Many of them will have detailed industrial sector analyses as well.  This will allow you to draw your own conclusions about what the economy has in store for your industry.

This analysis will prepare you to look inward at your own organization.  This will be developed in Part 2 of this mini-series, addressing SWOT analysis, vision-casting and goal setting at the corporate level.  Part 3 will address goal setting at the personal level.

All delivered just in time for 2020!