When a company is prepared for the future, it’s ready to innovate and adapt at any turn. It can pursue success despite changes in competition, industry volatility or major worldwide shifts. As we’ve seen over the past few years, the world as we know it can change at a moment’s notice. Being future-proof, regardless of what that future might look like, determines a business’s ultimate survival.
Planning for the future is an obvious component of successful business management, but preparing for one wrought with uncertainty has become more essential than ever in our current reality. In the face of a protracted pandemic, a war in Europe and other anomalies, finding ways to continue scaling and maintaining a standard of success requires a lot of flexibility and serious focus.
The future is flexible.
With a few key factors in mind, any company can put on a layer of protection that will keep it afloat in an uncertain future. A pliable strategy, along with a solid sense of identity and meaningful purpose, can help future-proofed organizations set themselves up for fortuitous growth and face unprecedented success-regardless of the ever-changing world around us.
Long before the pandemic was even a whisper on the breeze, I observed the workforce slowly turn toward a more limber structure. In an age of rapidly evolving technology, remote work began to make more sense and presented a huge appeal to many professionals. Professional hierarchies had become tiresome and the 9-to-5 grind increasingly unappealing to all parties involved. Just as companies began dipping their toes into more pliable possibilities, a global pandemic shoved them into the experimental pool without warning.
The number of businesses shuttered by the pandemic still feels staggering. With so many groups unprepared for changes in demand, supply and the overall productivity process, the massive worldwide shift and all its moving pieces were impossible to keep pace with. Today, many surviving or newly emerging businesses struggle to navigate the company in a largely changed environment drenched in societal shifts.
Flexibility, as discussed here, is not only a matter of adapting to remote work or altered schedules. It’s also about the flexibility of practice. The ability to innovate and adapt operations and still vanquish goals in the quest for success is vital to survival. Future-proofing largely depends on a company’s willingness to learn and adopt new ideas and practices. If the effects of the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that innovation doesn’t slow down in the face of uncertainty; it accelerates.
With the rise in innovation-particularly in the digital realm-comes the demand for a change in structure and organization. Digital platforms now allow teams to operate free from traditional workplace hierarchies and instead favor a structure that thrives on creativity, talent, speed and accuracy.
As companies continue to remodel their operations, it’s become clear that more work can be done better without the tired interference of office politics, micromanagement and the overall illusion of productivity. Streamlined tech platforms have allowed for a digital ecosystem that feels more productive and sensible than the grind we’d become accustomed to.
Maintain focus, purpose and identity.
The willingness to change, learn and adapt on every level is the foundation of future-proofing. It can keep companies charging headfirst toward their goals by any means necessary without losing steam.
A flexible, innovative mindset won’t protect companies from a volatile future all on its own. After all, the best-laid plans and means of execution won’t take you anywhere if there’s no set destination.
As a company braces for the future, it’s critical to establish a strong sense of identity and purpose. Having a clear definition of who the company is, what it does and where it’s headed helps to keep core values and goals in focus, no matter what happens.
Believe it or not, a company’s identity begins with its people as the foundation of its purpose. The human desire to belong and be part of something larger than oneself cannot be overlooked in the shuffle for profits. Creating a robust and distinct culture that revolves around meeting employees’ needs for social cohesion and meaningful purpose establishes a solid foundation for success.
Establishing a solid purpose, not just a goal, creates a future-proof safety net. It’s easy to determine what a company does, but more important to define is why it does it. What role does the company play in making the world better, more pleasant or easier to navigate in any capacity? How does the company become part of the real world?
Embrace a fireproof future.
Knowing where a business falls in the grand scheme of life helps establish a purpose that feels real and tangible. When employees see how their work impacts the world around them, even in the smallest way, company goals become more personal and more important on a large scale, encouraging commitment and driving motivation, regardless of how the tides change.
The key to future-proofing all lies in establishing and creating value-internally and for the outside world-and using whatever means necessary. In the face of an uncertain future, companies that are flexible in their methods and firm in their convictions have the greatest potential for success.
More than ever, it’s critical to embrace and use the rapid innovation at our fingertips to make a meaningful impact. Companies that invest in their purpose and their people while keeping an open mind in the face of an ever-evolving work sphere have a major leg up in the race for survival and success. By committing to a flexible approach to accommodate an unwavering purpose, companies can shield themselves from the flames of an uncertain future, ready to burn brighter no matter what happens next.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.
About Dylan Taylor
Dylan Taylor is Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space. Dylan is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, Member of the World Economic Forum and Co-Founding Patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Dylan is the Founder of the global non-profit, Space for Humanity, an organization dedicated to the democratization of space access. Earlier in his business career, Dylan was a Fortune 1000 executive serving in the roles of CEO, President and Board Director for multinational companies including the Jackson Mutual Fund Complex, UMB Bank, Colliers and Jones Lang LaSalle. Dylan holds a MBA from the University of Chicago and a Bachelors in Engineering with Honors from the University of Arizona where in 2018 he was named almunus of the year. Follow Dylan on Twitter and Instagram. Full bio available at www.dylantaylor.org