Just in case you didn’t have enough to deal with as you look ahead to 2021, the past few days have reminded us that the disruptions we’re facing are nowhere near finished. The US Presidential election will remain contested for a few more weeks; the next (real) Brexit deadline is looming at the end of the year; stock markets around the world are in yo-yo mode, bouncing up and down day by day; and country by country we see uncertainty and volatility everywhere.

There was some good news yesterday, with the announcement of Pfizer’s successful third phase trials of a vaccine. But there’s a lot of fine print: they can’t produce it at scale, it needs to be stored and transported at -70C, and it hasn’t yet gone through the final stages of safety tests and approvals. For most of the world, this vaccine will only be available late in 2021, even if it does work. Of course, other vaccine trials are also underway, and we continue to hope for better solutions to Covid-19.

The bottom line is that we are not yet nearing the end of disruption – and that’s not just a Covid statement. There are lots of disruptors in the system. As we plan for 2021, we cannot just wish the volatility away. Hope is not a strategy.

So, what should we do?

Simply put: we need to build adaptability into our strategies. We cannot pretend to be able to come up with enough scenarios to cover all possible disruptors that could hit us in 2021. What we really need is the ability to deal with whatever comes our way in 2021, whether we could anticipate it or not. This requires agility, flexibility, responsiveness, speed, innovation, experimentation and other characteristics that are not typical of most organisations (although we talk about them often). I sum these all up under the label of “adaptability”.

Different people, different functions and different organisations need to do different things to develop adaptability. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to build adaptability into your DNA, but it is the thing you need to do. That’s why I say that “your structure is your strategy” in 2021. Finding ways to become more adaptability by design needs to be your top priority for 2021. Otherwise you will not survive.

If you would like some help thinking through what this means for you and your organisation, please make contact with our team at TomorrowToday, and we’d be happy to have a no-obligations chat about how we help people become more adaptable.  You can also have a look at our Quarterly Journal, which is available for free here. It has some great ideas to get you moving in the right direction.

Whatever else you do or don’t do in preparing for 2021, make sure you find ways to build your adaptive intelligence.


Author of today’s tip, Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, and specialist in disruption and the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change.

For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.

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