Uncertain Times.

We wish you a productive and fulfilling 2019. We’re delighted that 100%Open had its best year ever in 2018 and we’re looking forward to exciting new clients, countries and challenges in 2019. We’re happy to welcome back old clients such as Crisis and several new clients whom we’ll announce when we’ve done the paperwork.

So in the gloom that is prevailing in the UK with all the Brexit okey-cokey (in, out, shake it all about), how come I’m so chirpy? At the risk of being somewhat annoying, let me try to put the case for Productive Uncertainty.

Whatever happens with Brexit, we are still probably many months, perhaps years before it is all settled. So this will be year three for many organisations being unable to plan properly, allocate resources, invest and make long term strategic decisions. The longer this goes on the more it becomes the new normal. What have we and our clients learned? Many boardrooms are dealing with it by being tactically adept whilst shelving long term strategic decisions. Yet this is risky.

The innovation teams within organisations have a role to play here. One of the key characteristics of an innovator is being comfortable with uncertainty. There are repositories of such individuals who will, in my view correctly, be saying that nothing is ever certain anyway, so what’s the big deal? Our clients Ford, UBS and Mars are dealing with radically changing markets and accelerating technological development. In history, it is often those organisations that deal with uncertainty the best that win. In a world where even young Americans are turning away from the automobile, where blockchain is disrupting banking and where retail distribution is undergoing a revolution, it is those companies that are embracing uncertainty and planning for new futures that will be best prepared.

So back in the boardroom, what are the lessons to learn from the innovation team? We think it all circles back to agility. The future has never been more unpredictable – in politics, business or technology. So let’s embrace it. Let’s learn lessons from start-ups and the design profession and be agile, user-centred and learn to become comfortable with uncertainty.

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