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What design lessons can we learn from English football’s underdog?

By stephen carmichael, PA business design expert

Brexit for the brave 

The UK’s decision for a Brexit from the European Union, has left the country divided and deeply wounded. A vulnerable economy, a crumbling labour party and no clear plan post-Brexit, but Theresa May, the last remaining candidate has been left to save the day – a remain voter pledging to make a success of Brexit.   

‘Brexit means Brexit’ - A phrase we’ve heard May use time and time again. But what does it really mean? 

The answer to that question is something that perhaps even our new PM doesn’t know. The country now faces at least a two-year period of uncertainty as it negotiates its divorce settlement with 27 countries and re-negotiates free trade deals with 53 non-EU countries. Two years… (and let’s remember that’s the minimum) is a long time to wait to answer “How will this affect me?”, “How will this affect our organisation?” - a big question that many are facing with no answer. 

Keep calm and carry on? 

This probably will turn out to be the right advice for large parts of the economy, but many businesses are doing the exact opposite. In a survey by the Institute of Directors, a quarter of its 1,000 members stated they were planning to freeze recruitment, with 5% planning job cuts. Undoubtedly, investment plans will also suffer – driving the exact behaviours that will drive the country into a deep recession. For businesses which are freezing recruitment, alternatives need to be explored…and fast. 

So what are they?   

  • Structure-it. Responding to inevitable change in the wake of Brexit requires having the right organisational structure in place. One that allows businesses to be capable of running ‘business as usual’, as well as bringing organisational agility through teams focused on the change that Brexit will bring – allowing the business to react quickly.

  • Upskill-it. An increasing number of organisations are looking at upskilling their staff, so they can do more outside their current role and be able to adapt to meet the market’s needs. Whether your business is in retail, financial services, healthcare or another sector, it will be facing some change - this is something which Brexit will surely guarantee. 

  • Exploit-it. Recruiting whilst other businesses are holding off will allow existing talent pools to be exploited. A bold move in uncertain times, but it might the right answer to outdo the competition.

Whilst I don’t profess this will solve all business problems post-Brexit - or get Theresa May humming – putting the right structures and skills in place and exploiting recruitment certainly offers businesses an opportunity to gain competitive advantage in an era of uncertainty…and is an alternative to - ‘now panic and freak out’. 

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