What about Donald?

Forward to the February 2017 edition of Leadership magazine.

If there was one question Clem Sunter and I were asked probably more than any other last year it was ‘What about Trump?’ It seemed businesses around the world were struggling to make sense of two things: how it was possible Donald Trump was being taken seriously as a contender for President of the United States, and what were the scenarios if he actually succeeded. To be honest, we didn’t have an answer to the first, outside of his heralding what we termed the rising ‘Anti-Establishment Flag’, but we had a pretty good idea what an America under Trump would be like: a gilded cage. We were unfortunately proven right in his pithy inauguration mantra ‘America First’.

However, you’d be mistaken if you think you can revisit your business strategy around the similar protectionist mindset of America under George W. Bush. Trump is a different animal. He has no credible history of political decision-making, outside of those presented in his first few weeks in power, and, even then, what he presents in terms of policy seems to change daily. He is unpredictable; in a man that powerful, with so much potential for impact, that’s dangerous. And if America retreats again into any cage, it won’t be gilded; in today’s interdependent world, fortunes can be found elsewhere.

Things could change if he becomes more of a team player. Will that happen anytime soon? It seems unlikely.

So what does that mean for you, as a leading thinker? Essentially, greater uncertainty, and the only way to deal with that effectively is to embrace it. There’s always opportunity in uncertainty, because most people avoid it; but it requires agility, and pivoting decision-making around multiple futures – scenarios – not just a single projected one.

For those strategically equipped to adapt to the changes that Donald Trump will invariably wreak on the global order, there is a chance to survive, even thrive. Keep an open mind, your head up, your eye on those possible futures, and be prepared to venture from your familiar path. It won’t be easy, but it will be interesting.

May the Fox be with you.