For those assumptions that cannot be controlled or verified until after an event or date, they become key risks — potential problems that have not yet occurred. Have your team identify ways to minimize their impact should they become realized, and prepare plans to respond to them. This does not mean you can prevent them from impacting your company, but having a plan to deal with an issue often improves how quickly and disciplined your responsiveness will be.
As we ring in the New Year, we have already had a key assumption test — the “fiscal cliff.” It had impacts on business ranging from payroll tax deductions to tax rates and credits to overall economic outlook through spending cuts.
Ask yourself how did your company deal with it? How did you prepare for it? Did you find yourself or organization assessing its implications throughout December 2012, or did you wait to see what the results would be in 2013? The “fiscal cliff” legislation answered short-term (2 months) questions, but failed to provide long-term (3-5 year) certainty for business leaders to make key decisions. As we have now seen for the past several years, the “cliff” example has become the new normal — uncertainty is here to stay for a while. The question for 2013 is will you lead though it or be driven by it?
Your Business Coach is a regular column produced by The Persimmon Group, an Oklahoma-based consulting firm that offers practical, results-oriented advice for business professionals of all disciplines and business owners across industries. Today's column is by TPG Founder and CEO Bill Fournet. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.