Having spent time watching events unfold in the Houses of Parliament and beyond in 2021 so far and having coached a number of business owners whose businesses has been impacted over recent months through uncertainty over Brexit and lockdowns I felt this was a timely question to ask.

In sales theory there is a requirement to remove certainty from the potential purchasers’ mind if the position they took was not allowing negotiation to take place. Ironically, this one will look at the same position from the other aspect because too much uncertainty can be massively destructive to business owners as it adds risk to decisions, if founded, and slows decision making in all cases. Here is my solution to these situations.

There is a simple grid that should be used in all cases where perceived uncertainty exists as below –

 

 

High Importance

 

 

 

I can control

 

 

Low Importance

 

 

 

I can’t control

 

 

Take any situation where uncertainty exists and ask yourself – how important is this to my business at this time? If it is of low importance I suggest you do not allow it to take up too much of your head space and make your decision in safety.

If it is deemed of high importance to your business at this time you do need to take it into account and give it more consideration.

The next question is – Can I control the events that have caused the uncertainty or not. If the answer is I cannot – then you need only to take mitigating steps or set an action to review again as events unfold and re-visit your decision when more control is available to you or where the uncertainty has passed.

As example of this could be whether we are going into a two month or four month lockdown. If you are making a decision that would be highly probable to be affected by the answer to this, I would suggest that makes it Important to your business. Can you control it? In most cases the answer will be no and so you should, as above, ask yourself can you do anything that will minimise the impact of the uncertainty. This could involve looking at some sort of hedge or defensive position or may involve doing some more research to allow you to better control the impact of the big picture uncertainty to your business. You can often control things on the micro level with uncertainty existing at the macro level and this allows you to make secure progress and decisions while you keep a weather eye on the macro situation. Remember, if you are have less that 50% of a market share in your geographical area then there is much you can do by winning market share by being better than your competitors even if your market is facing a reduction due to the macro situation. Deciding what you can do that you can control avoids stagnation and stops feelings of overwhelm. If you genuinely cannot make the decision with confidence that deciding to wait for a finite time before re-visiting the decision can be the correct answer.

All this above is if you decided you could not control the uncertainty that would impact your decision or action.

The final scenario is that you deem it is important to your business and you feel that you can control the situation either by removing the uncertainty or by taking actions that make the uncertain situation less important to you. These are the ones you should definitely take action on. Here you should set strategies to maximise the impact of the areas you can control and then execute the plan.

My final thought on this is something I shared with a client last week. Much of uncertainty can come from within and is due to a FEAR in your belief system. In Action Coach we use an acronym for FEAR

F – alse

E-xpectations

A-ppearing

R-eal.

Be sure when facing uncertainty that you are facing external uncertainty. If it is internal uncertainty you should ask yourself what you can do to change the belief in yourself and as a result improve the outcome of whatever your next action or decision is. This can reduce significantly the number of times external uncertainty is in the “I can’t control” / “High Importance” box.

I hope this has helped you with your decision making in uncertain situations and if you would like to discus how you can use these models in your business please contact me on rogerpemberton@actioncoach.com or call me on 07511 969690.