Trump executive orders are leaving America and the world in shock. With each passing day, the administration engages in sudden, unplanned, and extreme measures that are causing chaos.
Business does not like chaos.
More than two months ago I wrote a preview of what a so-called “nationalist” government would do to American business interests. I projected that America’s abandonment of global leadership, diplomatic norms, and trade deals would outweigh any “pro-business” environment promised. In addition to damaging our nation’s image around the world, it would also lead to deals lost, customers going elsewhere. That is unfolding predictably and tragically.
Let’s just start with the immigration ban debacle of the past weekend. Without the knowledge of the Secretary of Homeland Security or local governments, the White House launched a ban on travelers from certain nations, even those with VISA and Green Cards. Pandemonium ensued. Most chillingly, the temporary restraining orders (TRO) from Federal judges were ignored by Customs and Border Patrol agents, who refused even to brief Congressmen, as well as by US Marshals required to enforce the TROs without further word from the White House.
As of 2014 data, the United States makes around $220 billion in GDP from foreign tourists visiting our country, a number that is expected to grow along with the entire travel and tourism sector. Thanks to the latest Trump executive order and its deployment, we have now signaled enormous danger to anyone seeking to come in and spend those billions with us. Not only might you not make it to your destination, we might detain you and ignore the judges who say to turn you loose.
I’m assuming that this isn’t very attractive to tourists.
On Twitter, I surmised that Disney, if nobody else, would be pretty unimpressed by this move during their high season. This was mere conjecture, but it was met instantly with howls of potential tourists who had instantly canceled their plans.
The Mouse isn’t going to be the only one who gets hit, apparently:
These are anecdotal data, but they were volunteered within minutes of my posting. Logic dictates they aren’t the only ones. After all, this is the kind of move that would inspire our State Department to issue a travel warning to avoid the place until the government straightens up.
What business can do to prepare for chaos
It is evident that either through sheer incompetence or malice of forethought, more executive orders and other actions will produce sudden disruptions to both society and the economy. What can you do to get ahead of this curve, reduce risk, and seek new opportunities?
Here’s only a few suggestions:
1. Accept that this is not normal. It is normal to be swayed by normalcy bias in times of rapid change. Different people shift their perceptions on differing timeframes. Still, it is obvious that this situation is unlikely to return to “normal” anytime soon.
2. Plan for political discussions at work. Political norms have been so constant in the West for so long, that there’s an assumption that all discussions of politics are personal and have no place in the office. Now that the government is taking actions that will rock economic sectors like healthcare, insurance, tourism, and more, plan for more discussions that may become personal and heated. Get HR involved to work out plans and policies to keep employee morale going even when things get rocky.
3. Think in terms of scenarios. Embrace scenario planning tools to help think out multiple courses of action if there is the potential for disruptive change from government actions or their unintended consequences.
Chance favors the prepared mind. Much is up to chance right now. So prepare.
For those of you with businesses or government agencies looking to get proactive about anticipating and planning to thrive in a world going through disruption, my consultancy Competitive Futures now has a new workshop, America in Transition: Preparing for Change. Contact me or the firm directly for more about how to plan ahead.