“We’ve never seen this before!”
Oh, but yes we have. Presidential election time is always uncertain and the business reaction is usually the same. I am not minimizing possible Trump policy changes and their effects on social issues or international relations. Instead, I’m focused on the uncertainty facing the business community and more than a decade’s worth of observations on its reaction to these transitions. From that perspective, this presidential election is no different than the past seven.
Manufacturers and other leaders always seem to use these elections as reasons to wait rather than make tough decisions about their futures. Many of these same people are waiting again to see what President Trump will ultimately do; but winning companies rarely wait for the fog to lift on new policies. They create their own paths. Now is the time to follow their lead because the fundamental trends have never been clearer for action.
Presidential elections always create uncertain times. Personally, I can remember the last seven elections and the same pattern always emerges. Around the Fourth of July, chatter begins to change from “what do we do next” to “maybe we should wait to see who wins.” It starts as isolated conversations and by the fall, those discussions are front-and-center wherever you go. By election time, most people are focused on what will happen in D.C., and not so much on what they can do with their business.
It’s interesting to me how many really smart people buy into these discussions. Maybe it’s because sometimes waiting is easier than taking decisive action. Or it could be that listening to these conversations makes it easier to rationalize struggles within your own company. Whatever the reason, uncertainty in the Presidency becomes a common discussion topic, friends become an echo chamber, and everyone waits for clarity.
Instead of waiting for the Trump policies to come out of the mist, it makes more sense to look at what worked in the past. More often than not, success or failure depends on individual action, not government policies. If you believe that premise, then it makes much more sense to act rather than wait.
Winning companies take action by focusing on the fundamentals – both inside and outside of their organization. These companies keep it simple – using straight-forward tools to understand their situation and set direction. Engaging their entire team, these companies create a shared view of their position, practical strategies to move ahead, and steady actions to execute. This approach puts these organizations in position to make small bets to test those strategies and keep moving forward. Wait becomes a four-letter word.
I believe this is a perfect time to move forward because the fundamental business trends have rarely been clearer and one will overwhelm all the others. The Skills Gap is quickly morphing into a Body Gap. We will not have the people we need to continue with business as usual. The businesses that address this trend with an integrated strategy that includes Talent, Technology, and Techniques will find new opportunities to expand their operations as competitors struggle to react.
Don’t buy the hype. We’ve seen uncertainty around presidential transitions before. This time is no different. Take advantage of the situation and make the small bets that will move your company forward. If you’re paying attention to the fundamentals and moving decisively, you will be ready for anything that emerges from Washington.