How much uncertainty should business leaders plan for in 2021?

‘Uncertainty’ might have become the most known unknown concept to mark the conceptualisation of 2021 business planning. Indeed, decision makers are becoming increasingly comfortable using the term ‘uncertainty’ in a business context, but how do you plan to accommodate it in your business strategy when it can’t be categorically defined?  

Many business publications are calling this an opportunity for business leaders to initiate a ‘reset of capitalism’, which while a very exciting prospect, is more suitable for those agile and e-commerce oriented companies and not applicable to all, and somewhat impossible to strategically plan for.  

Deloitte have proposed a three-tiered planning system to cope with the projected economic fallout, from differing scenarios of recovery from the pandemic and how they’ll affect businesses in 2021. 

Three scenarios to structure your business planning around: 

Mild economic scenario: 

This would involve a quick economic upturn based on further containment of the pandemic globally and would allow most business operations to proceed with minimal caution into the ‘new normal’ with high expectations for success and profitability. 

Harsh economic scenario: 

This would ensue if the pandemic continued to be widespread well into the summer of 2021 with a prolonged recession affecting supply chains, the recruitment market, tentative consumer behaviour and causing risk-averse client behaviour. This would forestall any ‘non-essential’ projects and see a tightening of the reins on any budgetary spends, possibly rendering growth and recruiting non-existent. Businesses could move ahead tentatively with most normal activity, but with a cautious eye on spending. 

Severe economic scenario: 

This would happen if there was a resurgence of the virus to the point where most countries’ healthcare systems are overrun, and society breaks down even to the point that the central bank’s efforts are rendered useless. Many businesses would fail and there would be a mass nationalisation of many currently privatised industries. This is a worst-case scenario which – fortunately - we can be relatively confident won’t happen! 

Accommodating future uncertainty 

In the face of the first two scenarios, business leaders should look to prioritise essential  projects and  investments in the short, medium and long term and develop strategies accordingly. 

Agile resourcing solutions: Interim managers 

One way to enable agile and contingent planning  is to use interim managers to support those projects that are essential to business survival, growth and profitability in the coming 12 months. Interim managers are a flexible means of resourcing without having to commit to a permanent hire – which, should recruitment freezes or slow-downs continue in the coming months, interims will continue to become an increasingly attractive option. 

Be it a merger or acquisitionchange management, deploying new technology systems, or large-scale digital transformation projects, interims are a cost-effective and high-level resource who can guide and implement projects quickly and efficiently.   

Partnering with an interim services provider now is a good way to ensure you have access to the interim talent you need as services like Oakwood Resources have access to a wide network of skilled interims with great credentials and experience.  

Oakwood Resources can accelerate your business requirements by sourcing interim managers who are assessed based on their skills and experience and who can work alongside you to deliver successful outcomes for your business’ strategic or operational needs in 2021.  


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