Tag Archives: uncertainty

Do you prize novelty or certainty?

Do you prize novelty or certainty?

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

When you follow the best practice, by definition your work is not new. New work is never done the same way twice. That’s why it’s called new.

Best practices are for old work. Usually, it’s work that was successful last time. But just as you can never step into the same stream twice, when you repeat a successful recipe it’s not the same recipe. Almost everything is different from last time. The economy is different, the competitors are different, the customers are in a different phase of their lives, the political climate is different, interest rates are different, laws are different, tariffs are different, the technology is different, and the people doing the work are different. Just because work was successful last time doesn’t mean that the old work done in a new context will be successful next time. The most important property of old work is the certainty that it will run out of gas.

When someone asks you to follow the best practice, they prioritize certainty over novelty. And because the context is different, that certainty is misplaced.

We have a funny relationship with certainty. At every turn, we try to increase certainty by doing what we did last time. But the only thing certain with that strategy is that it will run out of gas. Yet, frantically waving the flag of certainty, we continue to double down on what we did last time. When we demand certainty, we demand old work. As a company, you can have too much “certainty.”

When you flog the teams because they have too much uncertainty, you flog out all the novelty.

What if you start the design review with the question “What’s novel about this project?” And when the team says there’s nothing novel, what if you say “Well, go back to the drawing board and come back with some novelty.”? If you seek out novelty instead of squelching it, you’ll get more novelty. That’s a rule, though not limited to novelty.

A bias toward best practices is a bias toward old work. And the belief underpinning those biases is the belief that the Universe is static. And the one thing the Universe doesn’t like to be called is static. The Universe prides itself on its dynamic character and unpredictable nature. And the Universe isn’t above using karma to punish those who call it names.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Navigating the Unpredictable Terrain of Modern Business

Shifting Sands

Navigating the Unpredictable Terrain of Modern Business

GUEST POST from Teresa Spangler

If you ask me, ‘So what is your business model?’ Our business model’s always about shifting to higher value opportunities. Ginni Rometty

Navigating the Unpredictable Terrain of Modern Business

The adage “a rolling stone gathers no moss” takes on a new dimension in an ever-evolving world. In the corporate jungle, we can’t afford the luxury of simply rolling ahead aimlessly. We’re not just stones; captains steering ships through stormy seas, constantly adjusting our sails amidst changing winds and turbulent waters. Balancing short-term urgencies with long-term visions is an art and science in itself. How do I transition from an overwhelmed executive to a masterful strategist? Dive in with me, and let’s chart this exhilarating course together.

Welcome to the Quicksand!

Business landscapes today are as unpredictable as they are dynamic. With swift technological leaps, fluctuating consumer appetites, and relentless competition, it often feels like you’re playing chess on a board that’s constantly reshaping itself. Yet, that sinking sensation can transform into a firm foothold with the right strategies and mindset. Let’s unravel the secrets:

1. Turn into Business Chameleons

Agility is the still the new cool. Embrace it. An agile organization is like a well-oiled transformer, ready to change form and function with market trends. Bill Gates is known for being a long time agile leader. “Success today requires the agility and drive to rethink, reinvigorate, react, and reinvent.” In the face of regenerative AI and so many technological advances this quote has never been truer!  Transforming your organization into business chameleon leaders could have significant benefits. You’re rarely left behind and always ready to grab new opportunities.

How to:

  • Promote a culture of flexibility: Encourage the “Yes, we can!” spirit.
  • Make innovation your best friend: Regular brainstorming sessions, innovation labs, or ‘Shark Tank’ style pitches can be fantastic.
  • Flex your strategies: Don’t stick to one path like a GPS with a weak signal. Adapt, change, and grow.

2. Balancing Act with Objectives

Picture this: You’re walking a tightrope, balancing a feather in one hand (short-term goal) and a bowling ball (long-term goal) in the other. Sounds tough? This scenario may be! So let’s come down to steadier grounds. Balancing short and long-term goals is an art and a science.

Strategic Planning and Prioritization

o  Planning is at the core of balancing short and long-term goals. It involves setting clear, measurable goals and creating a roadmap.

o  Begin with your long-term goals (3-5 years), and then break them down into shorter-term goals (1 year, quarterly, monthly). This way, you create a clear path towards your long-term vision.

o  Prioritize your goals based on their impact on your long-term objectives. This ensures you’re always working towards your big picture goals, even while tackling immediate tasks.

Flexible Resource Allocation

o  A flexible resource allocation strategy is key to balancing short and long-term goals.

o  Allocate resources (time, money, staff) to both short-term projects and long-term initiatives.

o  However, remain flexible and ready to reallocate resources as needed. For instance, you may temporarily divert more resources if a short-term opportunity arises that could greatly benefit the business.

Regular Progress Reviews

o  Regularly reviewing progress towards your goals is crucial.

o  Set specific milestones for both short-term and long-term goals. This will allow you to track progress and make necessary adjustments.

o  If you find you’re consistently missing short-term goals due to focusing too much on the long-term (or vice versa), it’s a sign that you need to reassess your balance and possibly adjust your strategy.

Balancing short-term and long-term goals is an ongoing process. It requires strategic planning, flexible resource allocation, and regular progress reviews. By employing these strategies, you can ensure your business stays focused on the present while keeping an eye on the future.


  • Ensures survival today (short-term) and success tomorrow (long-term).
  • Enhances value for stakeholders.
  • Builds resilience in the organization.

Arm Yourself with Tools and Techniques

Like a Swiss army knife, these tools can get you out of any sticky situation:

  • Scenario Planning: Picture yourself as a fortune teller. Create different future scenarios based on market trends. Plan your strategies accordingly.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): These are your compasses in the business wilderness. They help you stay on track with both short and long-term goals.
  • Regular Strategy Reviews: Like annual medical check-ups, regular strategy reviews ensure your business is in good health and shape.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: This is not just a buzzword. Engage employees, customers, shareholders, etc. They provide valuable insights and help align business objectives.

3. Embracing Technological Disruption

In the business world, technology is the game-changer, the grand maestro orchestrating a symphony of innovation. For executives, it’s not just about staying up-to-date with the latest tech; it’s about anticipating the next ‘big thing’ and leveraging it to get an edge.

How to:

  • Build an innovation-focused IT team: Encourage them to explore emerging tech trends that can revolutionize your business.
  • Invest in training: Ensure your team has the skills to handle new technology.


  • Improved operational efficiency.
  • Greater customer satisfaction through personalized experiences.
  • Competitive advantage in the market.

4. Expansion into New Markets

Growing businesses often look to expand into new markets – it’s like exploring uncharted territories. It’s challenging but can be incredibly rewarding.

How to:

  • Research extensively: Understand the new market’s dynamics, customer behaviors, and potential competitors.
  • Adapt your product/service: Modify your offerings to cater to the needs of the new market.


  • Diversification of revenue streams.
  • Increased brand recognition and business growth.

5. Building Strategic Partnerships

Think of it as having a dance partner to help you waltz through the shifting sands. Strategic partnerships can provide resources, technology, or market access you don’t currently have.

How to:

  • Identify potential partners: Look for companies that complement your business and share your values.
  • Clearly define roles and objectives: Make sure both parties understand what they’re bringing to the table and what they expect in return.


  • Access to new resources, technology, or markets.
  • Shared risks and costs.

6. Customer-centric Approach

In a world where the customer is king, ignoring their needs is like shooting yourself in the foot. With every market shift, customer preferences change. It’s important to listen, learn, and adapt accordingly.

How to:

  • Gather feedback: Use surveys, interviews, or focus groups to understand your customer’s needs.
  • Incorporate feedback: Modify your products or services based on the insights gathered.


  • Increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Greater market share and profitability.

7. Sustainable Business Practices

The world is waking up to the importance of sustainability. And businesses are no different. Incorporating sustainable practices can help businesses stand out and thrive amidst market shifts.

How to:

  • Go green: Implement eco-friendly practices in your business operations.
  • Promote sustainability: Ensure that your business partners, suppliers, and customers know about your commitment to sustainability.


  • Enhanced brand image and reputation.
  • Attracting conscious consumers and, thus, increasing market share.

8. Effective Change Management

Change is scary. It’s the boogeyman under the business bed. But as the market shifts, change is inevitable. The key is managing it effectively so your business can adapt and your team is on board.

How to:

  • Communicate: Let your team know about upcoming changes and how it impacts them.
  • Train and support: Provide the necessary training and support to help your team adapt to the changes.


  • Smooth transition during periods of change.
  • Maintaining high morale and productivity levels in your team.


Case Study: The Phoenix Rises

Remember Blockbuster? They were the big kid on the block in video rentals. Then, along came a little-known company called Netflix. Blockbuster didn’t adapt quickly, and we know how that story ends. Netflix, on the other hand, has continually adapted. They went from mailing DVDs to streaming, licensing content, and creating their own. It’s been quite the journey from the ‘little engine that could’ to the ‘big engine that did.’

Case Study: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of LEGO

LEGO, a beloved brand for many of us growing up, hit a wall in the early 2000s. Competition from video games and a lack of product focus almost led to their downfall. But they didn’t give up. LEGO turned things around by aligning their short-term and long-term goals, returning to their core product, and expanding into new ventures like movies and video games. It’s a testament to the fact that even when the sands shift beneath your feet, you can build a castle with the right strategies!

Case Study: The Digital Transformation of Domino’s Pizza

Once upon a time, Domino’s Pizza was just another pizza delivery company. But when online ordering began to gain traction, they seized the opportunity. They invested in their online ordering system and mobile app and embraced social media marketing. Today, Domino’s is seen as a tech-savvy pizza company. Their share price skyrocketed, and they’re now stiffly competing with Pizza Hut.

Case Study: Starbucks’ Embrace of Sustainability

Starbucks, one of the world’s largest coffee chains, took notice of the growing trend toward sustainability and decided to make a change. They’ve committed to reducing their environmental impact, from sustainable sourcing of their coffee to reducing waste. This commitment has helped Starbucks enhance its brand image and cater to environmentally conscious consumers.

Plazabridge Group Case Studies

The journey through the shifting sands of market change is daunting yet exciting. The real magic happens when we, as executives, adapt to these changes and ensure that our objectives align.

So, as you put on your boots to trudge through the sands, remember to keep your compass (goals) in hand, your team by your side, and your eyes on the horizon. And remember, the journey through the shifting sands is always easier when you’re not dragging your feet. So, let’s adapt, align, and conquer!


Let’s not forget, EMPLOYEES are not just cogs in the wheel. They’re the engine of your business. Engaging them in the efforts is like adding rocket fuel to your engine. They understand the ground realities, customer pain points, and operational hurdles. By involving them in decision-making, you benefit from their insights and build a more committed workforce. As the saying goes, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Staff engagement is like a secret weapon for businesses. It’s about creating an environment where employees feel valued, heard, and motivated to contribute their best. Here’s how you can tap into this powerful resource:

How to:

  • Encourage feedback: Let your team know their opinions matter. Whether through suggestion boxes, regular team meetings, or anonymous surveys, create channels for them to share their thoughts.
  • Involve them in decision-making: When making decisions that affect your team, include them. It could be through brainstorming sessions or by assigning them to task forces.
  • Recognize and reward: Appreciate the hard work and celebrate the wins. It could be a simple ‘thank you’ note or an employee of the month award. Recognition goes a long way in boosting morale and motivation.


  • Increased productivity: Employees who feel engaged and valued will likely be more productive.
  • Reduced turnover: Engaged employees are likelier to stick around, reducing the costs and disruptions associated with high staff turnover.
  • Better decision-making: By tapping into your team’s insights, you can make better-informed decisions.
  • Enhanced customer service: Happy employees often lead to happy customers. When your team is engaged, they’re more likely to deliver superior customer service.

So, there you have it, visionary leaders! An eight-step playbook to help you navigate the shifting sands of market changes. From being agile to aligning your goals, embracing technology to involving your team – it’s all about staying adaptable. As we journey through the shifting sands together, remember – it’s not just about surviving the change. It’s about thriving amidst it and becoming stronger on the other side. Now, let’s get out there and conquer those sands!

Navigating through the ever-shifting business sands can feel like being in constant flux. But as we’ve seen, by becoming agile, balancing objectives, embracing technological disruption, expanding into new markets, and building strategic partnerships, businesses don’t just survive but thrive. Yes, we all know, in the world of business, change is the only constant. With greater adaptability and alignment of goals, you can ride the waves of change to success. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to dive into the dunes!

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of June 2023

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of June 2023Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are June’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Generation AI Replacing Generation Z — by Braden Kelley
  2. Mission Critical Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Does — by Geoffrey A. Moore
  3. “I don’t know,” is a clue you’re doing it right — by Mike Shipulski
  4. 5 Tips for Leaders Navigating Uncertainty – From Executives at P&G, CVS, Hannaford, and Intel — by Robyn Bolton
  5. Reverse Innovation — by Mike Shipulski
  6. Change Management Best Practices for Maximum Adoption — by Art Inteligencia
  7. Making Employees Happy at Work — by David Burkus
  8. 4 Things Leaders Must Know About Artificial Intelligence and Automation — by Greg Satell
  9. Be Human – People Will Notice — by Mike Shipulski
  10. How to Fail Your Way to Success — by Robyn Bolton

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in May that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last three years:

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Innovation in Times of Crisis

Navigating Uncertainty and Driving Change

Innovation in Times of Crisis

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In times of crisis, businesses often face unprecedented challenges that demand swift and strategic action. The ability to innovate and adapt becomes crucial for survival and growth. While uncertainty may abound during periods of crisis, organizations that can harness their creativity and resilience can emerge stronger and more sustainable than before.

Case Study 1: Netflix

One of the most iconic examples of innovation in times of crisis is Netflix. The streaming giant started as a DVD-rental-by-mail service in the late 90s but faced an existential threat with the rise of online streaming and piracy. Instead of clinging to its outdated business model, Netflix pivoted towards streaming and original content production. This bold move paid off, and today Netflix is one of the leading streaming platforms globally, with a market value exceeding traditional media giants. By embracing change and constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation, Netflix transformed itself into a powerhouse in the entertainment industry.

Case Study 2: Airbnb

The travel industry was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, with borders closed and travel restrictions in place worldwide. Airbnb, a disruptor in the hospitality industry, faced a significant drop in bookings and revenue. However, instead of succumbing to the crisis, Airbnb seized the opportunity to innovate and cater to changing consumer preferences. The company introduced new services such as virtual experiences and long-term stays to accommodate the shift towards remote work and online activities. This adaptability and forward-thinking approach enabled Airbnb to weather the storm and position itself for future success when travel resumes to normalcy.

Key Takeaways:

In times of crisis, innovation is not a luxury but a necessity for organizations to survive and thrive. To navigate uncertainty and drive change effectively, businesses must cultivate a culture of innovation, embrace risk-taking, and be open to re-imagining their business models. The case studies of Netflix and Airbnb demonstrate that successful innovation in times of crisis requires vision, agility, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. By learning from these examples and applying the lessons to their own contexts, organizations can harness the power of innovation to emerge stronger and more resilient in the face of adversity.

SPECIAL BONUS: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Change Planning in Times of Crisis

Navigating Uncertainty and Building Resilience

Change Planning in Times of Crisis

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In times of crisis, organizations are faced with unprecedented challenges that require swift and strategic action. The ability to adapt and thrive in the face of uncertainty is a crucial skill that can make or break a business. Change planning is key to managing these transitions effectively and building resilience for the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a stark reminder of the importance of effective change planning in times of crisis. Businesses across the globe were forced to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, from transitioning to remote work to radically transforming their business models. Those that were able to navigate this uncertainty with agility and resilience emerged stronger on the other side.

Case Study 1: Airbnb

One such example is Airbnb, a company that faced significant disruption to its business during the pandemic. With travel restrictions in place and a dramatic drop in tourism, Airbnb had to quickly pivot its strategy to survive. By focusing on local stays and experiences, the company was able to adapt to the new reality and maintain its customer base. Through effective change planning, Airbnb demonstrated resilience in the face of crisis.

Case Study 2: Target

Another case study of successful change planning in times of crisis is that of Target, a retail giant that weathered the storm during the 2008 financial crisis. By prioritizing customer needs, streamlining operations, and focusing on innovation, Target was able to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever. The company’s strategic approach to change planning enabled it to not only survive the economic downturn but also thrive in the aftermath.

So, what are the key principles of effective change planning in times of crisis? Firstly, organizations must embrace agility and flexibility, being willing to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Secondly, leaders must prioritize communication and transparency, keeping employees informed and engaged throughout the change process. Lastly, businesses must focus on innovation and customer-centric strategies to stay ahead of the curve and drive growth in uncertain times.


Navigating uncertainty and building resilience in times of crisis requires strategic change planning and a proactive approach to managing disruption. By learning from case studies like Airbnb and Target, organizations can develop the resilience needed to thrive in the face of adversity. The ability to adapt, innovate, and prioritize customer needs is key to surviving and succeeding in challenging times. By embracing change planning as a core competency, businesses can weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

Bottom line: The Change Planning Toolkit™ is grounded in extensive research and proven methodologies, providing users with a reliable and evidence-based approach to change management. The toolkit offers a comprehensive set of tools and resources that guide users through each stage of the change planning process, enabling them to develop effective strategies and navigate potential obstacles with confidence.

Image credit: Pexels

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Navigating Uncertainty and Ambiguity During Change

Providing Advice on How Individuals Can Adapt and Navigate Through Uncertain and Ambiguous Situations That Arise During Periods of Change

Navigating Uncertainty and Ambiguity During Change

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Change is an inevitable and constant aspect of life. Whether it’s a career transition, a company merger, or a global crisis, periods of change often bring forth uncertainty and ambiguity. These situations can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate, but with the right mindset and approach, individuals can learn to adapt and prosper. In this thought leadership article, we will explore strategies to successfully navigate uncertainty and ambiguity during change, backed by two compelling case study examples.

1. Embrace the Growth Mindset:

During times of change, one of the most important qualities individuals can cultivate is a growth mindset. This mindset is characterized by a belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and effort. By adopting this perspective, individuals can view uncertainty and ambiguity as opportunities to learn, grow, and improve.

Case Study Example 1:

Emily was a middle manager in a financial services firm undergoing a significant restructuring. As her team’s roles and reporting lines became unclear, Emily chose to embrace the growth mindset. She focused on developing new skills, taking on additional responsibilities, and proactively seeking feedback from her superiors. By adopting this approach, Emily not only gained new knowledge but also emerged as a valuable asset to the organization. Her willingness to adapt and learn ultimately led to a promotion to a senior leadership role.

Case Study Example 2:

Tom, a recent graduate, found himself facing uncertainty when the pandemic hit, causing a major economic downturn. With limited job opportunities available, Tom decided to embrace the growth mindset. He used this time to enhance his professional skills, network, and explore alternative career paths. Tom learned a new programming language and leveraged his virtual network to secure freelance projects. This adaptability not only provided him with immediate income but also opened doors to future employment opportunities in a growing industry.

2. Develop Resilience and Flexibility:

Uncertainty and ambiguity can be emotionally challenging, often leading to stress, anxiety, and even self-doubt. To navigate these difficult situations successfully, individuals must develop resilience and flexibility.

Case Study Example 1:

Sarah had been working as a marketing professional in a well-established company when she was abruptly let go due to downsizing. In a state of shock and confusion, Sarah faced multiple rejections and setbacks while searching for a new job. Recognizing the importance of resilience, she sought support from a career coach, maintaining a positive mindset throughout the process. This helped Sarah stay focused and motivated, enabling her to find a new role with more responsibilities and increased job satisfaction.

Case Study Example 2:

Carlos, a manager in a manufacturing company, was faced with ambiguity during a corporate acquisition that led to a significant restructuring. As roles and responsibilities were being redefined, Carlos recognized the necessity of flexibility. He openly communicated with his team, encouraged collaboration, and embraced the changes with a solution-oriented mindset. Carlos’s adaptability made him the go-to person for colleagues, fostering teamwork and establishing him as a trusted leader in the organization.


Navigating uncertainty and ambiguity during change requires individuals to embrace a growth mindset and develop resilience and flexibility. By perceiving change as an opportunity for growth and continuously adapting to new circumstances, individuals can not only survive but thrive. The case study examples of Emily, Tom, Sarah, and Carlos illustrate how these strategies can lead to personal and professional success. Embracing change and navigating uncertainty holds great potential for individuals to shape their own futures, regardless of the circumstances they face.

Bottom line: Futures research is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futures research themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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