The state of the economy continues to dominate the headlines. But, now, instead of a storyline that says, "Why is the recovery so modest?" we've moved to, "Are we sure we have a recovery?"
The threat of falling back into a recession becomes more real every day, particularly with continued cutbacks in government spending.
Most employers are asking themselves, What should we do? Should we continue on with our plans, which, typically, were for modest expansion and hiring over the next year? Should we get a jump on cost-cutting in case there is a double-dip recession? Or should we do something entirely different?
What makes the current uncertainty so unnerving is that, in relative terms, we ...view middle of the document...
Ask them what the two most important uncertainties are right now that will affect the future of the operation in the next year or so.
Why only a year or so into the future? Because in practice, almost no organization has real plans that go out any further. If they do, they update them, which is another way of saying they change them.
Second, go back to your office and draw up a two-by-two matrix of the uncertainties. For each uncertainty, see if you can create two opposite responses for each. For example, will the economy continue a slow recovery? Or will it fall back into recession? Will the company get the big government contract or not?
Third, create the matrix with two rows representing the two outcomes for the first uncertainty (e.g., the economy will continue to grow, and the economy will fall back into recession) and two columns representing the two outcomes for the second uncertainty (e.g., we get the contract or we don't).
Now, we have four boxes in the middle, representing the possible states of the world associated with the two most important uncertainties (e.g., the first one might be the economy grows and we get the big government contract).
It becomes obvious when looking at the matrix why we shouldn't ask for more uncertainties -- because it generates too many boxes to keep...