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Decision-Making Process Amidst Heightened Volatility

Corey Loehr
October 7, 2021
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Making decisions in a time of uncertainty is not easy. As a result, there is a heightened element of risk in any decision that is made. For example, you may have planned to have staff return to your fitness center only to have restrictions tighten again and stop what you, only a short time ago, started.According to Aon, "What is unique about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it will not have a linear crisis event arc with a defined beginning, middle, and end. Rather, there will be distinct phases to the pandemic that will hit different parts of the world and the economy at different times.” This uncertainty can create heightened tension in an already stressed environment. So what can you do to adapt your decision-making process at times like these?

Prepare more than one scenario.

When making decisions, we tend to think of them as final, and in one sense, they are. But, on the other hand, the best action is taken when decision-makers are sure about their path and take the desired steps to make what they want to happen.But, at times like these, consider that having parallel options may be best. And those options may not be big things. Due to the fast-changing environment that we are still in after more almost 24 months of the a pandemic, no one would have predicted the business environment you are now functioning in.Making big decisions now could cost you your business. Instead, consider there may be smaller options available that will mean change yet not impact in such a way as to lock you into a path that may not be sustainable should this pandemic continue.And by considering parallel options, you allow your business the flexibility to make a more decisive longer-term shift should the options work out.

Talk through decision-making options with staff/partners.

Staff are often the underutilized resource when it comes to decision-making. Yet, as the eyes and ears of the business on the ground, they often hold valuable information that would remain untapped if not sought out. As a leader, you can look to them for input.Rather than thinking that you alone must be the decision-maker, test your theory or decision with others. Seek out their insight as to what customers are saying to them daily. Engage with other local business owners for a more general feel for the marketplace you exist in, in your local area.What trends are others aware of that you may not be? Utilize other's insight to help add validity to your decisions or provide another aspect that may allow for better longer-term choices, even in the uncertainty.

Be okay with the uncertainty

Not making decisions due to uncertainty is not going to support your long-term goals. But, on the other hand, going with the flow and allowing yourself to be comfortable with the uncertainty will hold you in good stead for whatever the environment looks like post-pandemic, whenever that will be.Consider the shift in the overall fitness industry environment and make small shifts to adapt, knowing that you may need to shift again in the not-too-distant future.Realizing right now that wanting life to be 'normal' again is wishing for something that is not possible. No matter how much you want it.Take time to stop and consider if you need to make any change at all, knowing that things could shift again, suddenly. Be okay that uncertainty is the new normal at this time.As Cheryl Strauss Einhorn states, "Being aware of our uncertainty is a necessary precursor to managing it. Effective awareness means pausing, taking a strategic stop, and assessing the situations and the unknowns."

Remain flexible in your decision making

In such a volatile business environment, flexibility is the most important value you can have. However, being rigid in not only your approach but your decision-making as a whole could mean that you position yourself and your business in a place that is not sustainable long term.“As they continue to navigate uncharted territory, business leaders should focus on a sophisticated response framework to guide decision-making and shore up vulnerabilities while identifying opportunities to make the organization more agile and resilient for the future," according to Aon.By remaining flexible and adaptable, you will have the ability to shift your business model with the changing times. And simply because you decided to move one way does not mean that is the way things have to stay, should the environment shift again.You may, for example, have opted to present some classes online during the shutdown. While that may remain part of a viable long-term solution, it may not be what consumers look for after the pandemic. On the other hand, maybe consumers will return to wanting the in-person experience of group classes again.Be open and flexible about where you find yourself currently, knowing that there is no new 'normal' at this time.What do you think? Share some thoughts in the comments.

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