Why You Should Stop Planning For Brexit And Test Your Resilience Instead



January 9, 2019

Why stop planning?  In part, because there are so many permutations and possible futures: Brexit Bill passes, Brexit Bill fails, No Deal Brexit, No Brexit, Confidence Votes, General Elections….. the list goes on.  It is difficult to predict which of these will play out; or whether there will be a composite of several of them i.e. a no-confidence vote, followed by a general election followed by…?

This is leading to a situation in which organisations are either; creating a plan for every eventuality, spread betting, or sticking their head in the sand.

Creating a plan for every option is pointless.  It is taking up huge amounts of staff time, energy and resource and distracting organisations from what they should be doing – delivering excellence for their customer.  This distraction leads to poor quality delivery which impacts on reputation and loss of earnings. Who wants to spend weeks developing the ‘perfect’ Brexit plan only to realise your customers have left you in the meantime?

Some organisations are spread betting – taking out options to cover themselves in the event of any of the above.  The CBI estimates that 1 in 5 British businesses have either relocated operations overseas, stockpiled goods, cut jobs or moved supply chains outside the UK.  This is fine but is unachievable for most businesses, who simply don’t have the capability to build up reserves in this manner. Its is also wasteful, as many of the options won’t be required and are therefore an unnecessary expense that could have been avoided.

Avoiding the Brexit bogeyman and waiting for clarity is probably the most damaging course of action of all.  According to an article in the Financial Times:

“For every company that has done some sort of risk assessment on Brexit preparedness in general, there are two that haven’t,” said Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce. “Of those that have, very few will have done it on the basis of a no-deal.”

It sounds counter-intuitive, but in times of extreme uncertainty, it actually makes more sense not to plan, but instead to test your organisational responsiveness.  By getting together a core team to champion your approach and test it against possible scenarios, you will identify where your gaps currently exist, where you have a lack of knowledge or awareness, where you are missing essential skills, people, markets.  In effect, you run a ruler over your organisation’s stability and check how robust it is.

This testing process starts to make your whole team lighter on their feet – adaptable, responsive, innovative, higher tempo.  They have tested the business against multiple scenarios and looked at the organisation with a critical eye, supported by suppliers, clients, regulators, investors.  They have seen which approaches work, which don’t, where more effort is needed. As such, they have several solutions up their sleeve and can shift to developing a rapid Plan B when Plan A inevitably goes wrong.  It might reveal that if you place some of your operation overseas, you don’t need to stockpile and/or cut jobs as well.

Even better, such tests can be extremely short in duration.  Frequently they take just half a day, and there are a variety of different test types including Pre-Mortem, Red vs Blue Wargaming, Outside-In Tests etc.  They deliver far more bang for their buck than lengthy planning sessions which may never be required and can be run by any organisation, in any sector, at any scale.

So stop planning for eventualities that won’t happen, or spread betting, that just wastes time and money.  Instead, check how robust your business is against likely impacts and where those impacts may arise. Improve that resilience and the responsiveness of your teams, and you will become so adaptable and agile that you won’t need to plan, you can simply adjust emphasis at pace.

If you’d like to know more about how @QuirkSolutions helps organisations to test their readiness, assess risk and improve responsiveness get in touch here.

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