How to lead for an uncertain future?

Be it Startups or MNCs, there are times when campaigns fail or smart prototypes and MVPs on the verge of getting implemented gets canceled at the last moment. There might be a global crisis like the COVID-19, whose scale and the impact could never have been predicted.

Product innovation today has tools, cheat codes, growth hacks, and tests but no fixed innovation blueprint. So, how to lead during times of uncertainty?

Leaders who ‘know-it-all’ bag a lot of praise. But during times of vulnerability, the heap of ‘know-it-all’ memory does not help. In this blog post, we share some tips to help leaders dive into unknown territories of business with ease. 

Get in the ease with – ‘I do not know’

It’s scary to say ‘I do not know’ when you’re a leader because your entire team is looking up to you. But by being vulnerable and transparent about the failure, you gain trust; and if lucky maybe even team retention. 

Once you outstrip the vulnerability of ‘I know’, solutions will unexpectedly pour in. Being just sincere enough to admit that you do not know will help you and your team overcome the restlessness that comes with failure.

Generate and Brainstorm some Bad and some Utopian ideas 

Gather all the members of your company, and divide them into two equal batches. Get Batch #1 generate bad ideas, extremely weird ones which can degrade the business sales; and get Batch #2 generate Utopian ideas, extremely idealistic or groundbreaking ideas that cease to exist yet. Motivate your team to not confine ideas into right or wrong, but simply come up with ideas beyond logic. 

In the end, when everybody presents their idea, do not just praise the utopian ideas, but also bad ideas. This activity is sure to open a different doorway of clarity for you and your team. 

Turn your failure into assets:

Did you lose a million due to the mistake of one employee? Did you fail because of the lack of feedback from users or your team?  Did you fail because your team left you? Did your business rise and fall like WeWork

The good news is that you can turn your business’s bad press into good press. You can do this by sharing all these failures in the form of case studies and uploading it over your company blog. You can start with titles like: ‘How we lost 1 lakh, subscribers/customers, in one day!’, or ‘Missteps in our culture that blinded us for long’, etc.

This strategy might not help your business growth at flash speed, but will certainly help you retain the brand reputation and employee retention.

Switch from growth mode to survival mode 

Teams are always encouraged to love the ideas and projects they’re working on. But during the uncertain times, try changing the context. Do this by shifting from ‘the best strategy’ to ‘Just enough strategy’. This will also help you shift the mindset from ‘We will execute like this’ to ‘We could execute like this’.  

One of the best ways, to begin with, is to conduct a Design Sprint for your product. This is a surefire way to evaluate ideas before you and your team get too attached to it. Running a Design Sprint is a flash speed approach to find out if a product is worth developing, or if a campaign is worth the effort, or if your approach is really valid. 

And still, if these tips don’t work for you, you go right for a walk, exhibitions, or any creative experience. Undergoing new experiences never fails to bring new insights. 

AI Blog Industry Trends

5 Leaders Who Championed Gender Equality In Their Organizations In 2019

Gender Equality and Diversity has been a buzzword for a few years now, at least when it comes to a company aligning its Public Communications with the latest sociological trend. In a survey of 1,000 respondents, Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers overall look at workforce diversity when evaluating an offer. Numerous studies have linked increased productivity with the same phenomenon. 

While gender diversity seems an obvious way to go for all the companies, the implementation of it is a complex issue. From addressing the problem of “Equality of outcome vs equality of opportunity” to tackling one of the founding principles of capitalism: meritocracy; implementation of gender diversity is hard.

However, the leaders listed below went out of their way to not only champion gender diversity but to implement it in the right way in 2019.

Beth Whited

Executive Vice President and CHRO, Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific has constantly been named as the top gender diversity destination and one of the best employers, all because of leaders like Beth. Seeing a decline in engagement for female employees in 2018, she organized several diverse female employee focus groups. The result of these sessions was enhanced maternity benefits and also the introduction of paternity benefits. Additionally, Beth partnered with the company’s women’s ERG to better understand how the company could support the work-life integration needs of women in operating roles.

If the rail industry, which is thought to be a male-dominated domain can make such efforts, most companies can take this example. 

Sara Wechter

Global Head of Human Resources, Citi

In June 2019, Bloomberg revealed that men earn 29% more than women in the Citigroup. The numbers narrow down when adjusted to the number of hours worked and considering the job roles, however, the statistic is still a matter of concern, especially for the Global Head of Human Resources. Under Sara’s leadership, there is tremendous momentum behind efforts to increase diversity across the firm with a rigorous focus on outcomes. Realizing the business imperative of diversity, Sara has embedded these diversity goals alongside their business goals and is fostering an inclusive workplace environment for employees. 

Tony Colon

Head of CX Product Development, Cisco

Product development has traditionally been a male-dominated domain but Tony Colon wants to change that, at least for Cisco. To start with, he promoted diverse interview panels with equal gender representation in all panels. He also worked with Talent Acquisition to push for equal gender representation of female candidates in all candidate slates, regardless of market availability and type of role, including data scientists, software engineers, and engineering leaders were female candidates are far fewer.

Jennifer Abman Scott

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Society of Women Engineers

While more women than men are graduating with four-year degrees, women are significantly underrepresented in the engineering industry, and more likely to leave due to cultural influences. SWE partnered with career re-entry firm iRelaunch to implement a program that would target a hidden talent pool – women with technical degrees on career breaks – and engage them with internships as a vehicle for re-entry. The Task Force meets the needs of women wanting to return to work after a career break while also addressing the challenges encountered by employers in attaining a diverse workforce at all levels of their organizations. Jennifer has ensured that SWE utilizes its brand, global presence, and reach to find qualified talent and broaden the awareness of these programs to further the work of the Task Force. 

Vijay Anand

SVP Global Engineering, Intuit

Vijay is the Executive Sponsor of the Tech Women Intuit initiative which is a program created to attract, retain and advance women in technology roles at Intuit. His response to solving the diversity-in-tech problem in India was so effective that it changed the course of workplace culture across all of Intuit’s global sites, including adding tremendous support for women in tech at its headquarters in Mountain View. Vijay’s style of empathetic management resulted in several highly impactful programs that were implemented in India, including Women in Tech Ambassadors and the enhancement of benefits related to motherhood, caregiving, and flexible work options.