UCL School of Management

28 October 2020

Vaughn Tan explains how the uncertainty mindset can avoid the pandemic pivot

Businesses around the world have been affected by the pandemic with many drastically changing their business models and strategy to survive. 2020 has been dubbed the year of pandemic pivot for businesses with many launching new products, switching to a new online model and exploring new markets.

However, Vaughn Tan suggests how the ideas in his latest book—The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food—can help businesses better understand their current strategy and adapt less drastically and more effectively.

Drastically changing a business model is difficult and seldom very effective. Vaughn suggests that simply acknowledging uncertainty, then embracing it internally, can help business leaders identify subtler, more effective strategies for dealing with the uncertain times ahead.

Speaking to Raconteur, Vaughn said: “That very basic assumption [that the future is not fully knowable in advance] changes what you pay attention to in strategy and it changes what you do internally: how you hire, how you motivate people and how you set goals…With the uncertainty mindset, the idea is not that you conduct big tests with big consequences, but micro-tests that result in small course corrections along the way.”

Many small businesses have reacted to the uncertainty from the pandemic by either being paralysed and doing nothing, or pivoting dramatically without thinking through the implications of such business model changes. Vaughn believes that business model changes need to be done quickly but in small steps, and these changes have to be driven by imagination and anchored in reality. 

Read the full article and learn how some businesses have reinvented the wheel in response to the economic crisis and changes in consumer behaviour caused by the global pandemic.

Last updated Wednesday, 28 October 2020