About the series
John Bremen is a guest contributor for Forbes.com, writing on topics including the future of work, leadership strategy, compensation and benefits, and sustainable strategies that support productivity and business success.
Future-seeking leaders create more resilient organizations and sustainable growth by connecting current and future risks in any environment. By viewing risks cohesively through a common lens at the enterprise level, organizations can achieve better outcomes than by managing them independently.
The last two years illustrate the impact of multiple low-frequency, near-simultaneous, high-impact risks: a global pandemic, financial shocks, a series of “hundred-year” weather events, social disruption and significant labor shortages. The frequency and complexity of geopolitics, economic volatility, population health, climate change, and threats related to supply chain, cyber, talent and technology add to the challenge.
While the concurrence of these events may seem unlikely, analysis across 10 risk categories calculates a 63% probability that one or more “hundred-year events” will occur in any given decade, and a 26% chance that multiple such events will occur in the same decade. The likelihood is even higher when events are interdependent. In essence, by constantly identifying and anticipating threats, preparing for the unexpected and being ready to act decisively, future-seeking leaders gain improved foresight and judgment as well as achieve superior results.
In the following examples, leaders put such practices into action to serve customers and protect employees in new ways during unforeseen events, such as:
Future-seeking leaders develop organizational resilience, the ability to bounce back from adverse events, by understanding lessons from these events and enabling them to emerge better positioned against similar occurrences. Building resilience to address broad risks requires an array of capabilities that are most effectively addressed on three fronts:
Future-seeking leaders use data and analytics to enable a deeper and broader understanding of connected risks and how they impact financial, operational and human resilience. By highlighting broad and correlated institutional (e.g., climate, cyber, capital, reputation) and employee (e.g., pay, benefit, career, skill, equity gaps) risks, leaders look beyond statistics and take meaningful actions to become more adaptive, resilient and profitable, reducing the potential impact of “downward spirals” of intersecting events, increasing speed to recovery and gaining competitive advantage.
The actions of future-seeking leaders demonstrate that it is possible for businesses today to manage successfully through uncertainty and be better prepared for the future – whatever it brings.
A version of this article originally appeared on Forbes.com on February 22, 2022.
Discover how to navigate the pandemic and manage people-related challenges