When resolving any situation, the first step is to decide where you want to get to. Then work out how you are going to get there.
Inner Leadership provides several tools for deciding where you want to get to. Two of them especially apply to the Brexit crisis.
The first is to define the kind of future you want to work towards. Then make the choice that seems to take you in that direction.
This is what we did in the Referendum. We offered voters two alternatives:
A future where we take back control, have fewer immigrants, better trade deals, an extra £350m per week to spend on the National Health Service, and so on
A future that’s … not Brexit
We voted. We chose the future we wanted. And then the world gave us feedback on that choice.
People around the world said they would now pay us 10 percent less for our currency. In two days $3 trillion was wiped off global stock markets. In Britain incidents of racist violence increased. Brexit politicians told us that they would not spend £350m/week on the health service after all, and they would not change the number of migrant workers coming to Britain either. Scotland and Northern Ireland said that they would rather remain part of Europe than the UK. And many people who had voted Leave said they had changed their minds.
Given this outcome and this feedback we again have to decide how to move forward.
A second tool gives us a more detailed framework for thinking this through. It considers the detailed upsides and downsides of each option. For clarity and space I am going to consider just three of these:
(A) Continue with Brexit (Invoke Article 50)
(B) Cancel Brexit (by some means, to be defined)
(C) Delay any Decision
The point at this stage is not to worry about how achievable these options are, just to decide which one we prefer. Then we can work out how to implement it.
We do this by listing the upsides and downsides of each alternative. Then we map them on to the chart below. Again, this list is not meant to be definitive so do add to it if you want to. List the upsides and downsides and then focus on your summary rating for each option: are the upsides and downsides high, very high, low, or very low?
(A) Continue with Brexit:
— Upsides: The will of the people is implemented, uncertainty is reduced
— Downsides: Provides yet another shock to markets and emotions, reduces negotiating leverage
CONCLUSION: High upside, Very high downside
(B) Cancel Brexit:
— Upsides: Recover at least some economic losses, maintains United Kingdom, maintains stability in Europe, reduces uncertainty
— Downsides: Likely angry backlash of the Brexiters, loss of face.
CONCLUSION: High upside, High downside
(C) Delay Decision:
— Upsides: Allows emotions and markets to calm, retains degree of leverage in negotiations, allows time for emergence of Options A or B, or possibly ‘Option D’
— Downsides: Few. Markets and emotions can recover and settle. Unlikely to worsen
CONCLUSION: Low upside, Very low downside.
You might disagree with the analysis. It is not meant to be exhaustive or perfect. Do add to it, and create your own list of upsides and downsides. Rate them as high, very high, low, or very low. And think about whether each option is Easy to implement (Green), Difficult (Red), or Medium (Amber).
Then map them on to the following chart.
This gives you a simple framework for making your decision.
It can be applied to any situation, even one as complex as Brexit.
Having chosen where you want to get to, the next step is to think through how to get there. I shall address this tomorrow.