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Evocatus Consulting Ltd

Weathering the Perfect Storm: a Problem Solving Strategy fit for the challenges of 2021

By Anthony Sharman
Monday, February 22, 2021

Weathering the Perfect StormDescriptions of the business environment in 2021 are just a little bit pointless at the moment.  Just as the word “unprecedented” lost any impact through justified over-use, so descriptions of the challenges facing businesses now seem to be full of hyperbole, based more on emotional responses and opinion than disciplined analysis of the situation facing us.  Journalists and politicians may enjoy conjuring up the image of the “Perfect Storm” of Brexit, the impact of Covid-19 and the climate emergency, but those of us attempting to plot a course through such uncertainty have to do more than wail about our fate.  Steering our enterprise through will require nerve, not only to avoid the rocks and reefs all around us, but also to watch and prepare for the crushing waves rolling in from the horizon and to keep in mind our destination.

 

It’s not a subtle metaphor, but it does sum up the difficulties involved in decision making for business leaders in 2021.  It’s not enough to mitigate the impact of what’s happening now, as a result of one factor, because the complexity of the real world means that the unintended consequences of responding to one issue can leave us vulnerable to the next; we’re playing chess, not individual hands of poker.  Developing a strategy for problem solving in this context requires more thought and effort than might be the case in simpler times, when a linear approach could work.  And the upside is that complexity and uncertainty can create the conditions not only for strengths to become weakness but for threats to become opportunities, particularly when a little diversity of thought is applied to make sure the situation gets scrutinised from every perspective. 

 

At Evocatus, our approach to helping businesses with their problem-solving strategy is all about taking a moment to pause, take stock and really understand the situation.  We design games and exercises to bring scenarios to life, in which there are no simple solutions or obvious ways through.  Our games are not there to be won, but are there to bring teams together and to help them explore, to help build understanding of how factors interconnect until causes become easier to identify behind the pain and frustration of the symptoms.

 

By working with individuals from across the businesses before the game, we can make sure that the scenario reflects not just the concerns of a minority, but reflects the breadth and complexity of attitudes across the team, where our experience shows that views and concerns on what to do next can be not only in conflict but even antagonistic.  By adding all of these into an exercise, we can help to support more effective decision-making, entirely by harnessing the understanding and ideas of people from within the organisation.  It’s not always about finding the rebel ideas, but it is about making sure they at least get heard.

 

We find that our clients are universally surprised by (and happy with) the results they achieve, often unlocking a level of understanding which allows them to come up with innovative solutions to the problems they actually face, rather than a tired response to the issue they initially thought they were dealing with.  And while not every business can create an opportunity from a problem, there is often a way to create additional value somewhere in the solution.  While we don’t major on being a team-building outfit, the boost to cohesion and shared vision which comes from getting everyone involved in understanding and solving the problem is obvious. 

 

While much of our work tends to be devoted to solving a particular problem, testing a plan or consent building for change management programmes, the “Perfect Storm” seems like the ideal opportunity for one of our exercises to be effective, given the need to regroup, to consider what has changed and to consider what further challenges (and opportunities) are ahead.  

 

If you would like to discuss using a bespoke game to weather proof your business against the storm, please get in touch.

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