E-Connect - December 2023
"The challenge of these times is not the ambiguity but rather our appetite for ambiguity"
Season's best and happy new year. Or is it? Sometimes it doesn't seem to be the "best" or the "happiest" of times. In fact, the times can seem confusing and a little bewildering. With inflation and interest rates high, technology focused on eliminating jobs, and the constancy of political noise, the times might even be considered a bit daunting.
Meanwhile, marketers are charged with joyously engaging their communities and eagerly promoting products and services. And while marketers individually are not immune to the macro ambiguity that exists, they have the unique opportunity to lead into the unknowable and unpredictable.
Traditionally, businesses have a bias for action, preferring to commit to the "best" opportunity based on available data. This approach is likened to steering large ships, which requires setting a clear direction and coordinating efforts to bring about change. "Business has a bias for action—a propensity to commit to the 'best' opportunity."
In a January 2023 article in Deloitte Insights, authors Peter Evans-Greenwood and Katherine Wannan suggested that businesses will need to shift from "deciding to act" to "acting to decide." This involves investing in small actions to improve understanding and foster the development of all options. As understanding improves, some options may become more viable than others. "Rather than deciding to act, we should consider acting to decide."
Marketers have spent a great deal of time dedicated to understanding trends through analyzing data. However, when times get tough, we typically resort to survival techniques like we did during Covid. In turn, there were countless examples of companies creating and building new solutions in the moment. The action they took, in some cases, bore new opportunities.
Whether it was a restaurant launching a new delivery program or a manufacturer pivoting from building stage sets to furniture, those that took action rather than lying dormant are most likely flourishing today. As history has shown, when times are tough, or at least confusing, those that take action and invest in serving others will win.
The challenge of these times is not the ambiguity but rather our appetite for ambiguity. In other words, this is a remarkable chance to take action and push forward. There will be plenty of people who look at the numbers or the oncoming wave of AI and retreat to the perceived safe haven of cost-cutting and good old-fashioned hunkering down. However, the companies that charge forward and explore will find enrichment on multiple levels.
So, yes, it is "Season's Best" and it will be the happiest of New Years. The brightest marketers in the land embrace ambiguity. They salivate at the opportunity to learn and have an unwavering confidence because they know how to productively engage with it. As the year turns, embrace the ambiguity as a source of creativity and innovation. Your success will be born from your ability to sense and pivot toward opportunities and challenges as they arise.
Happy New Year!
"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
- Peter Drucker