We all see it . . . business markets are trying hard but continue to be flat, easily scared, and “frozen in the headlights,” – – – primarily maintaining, and definitely not building. Workforce attitudes suffer from a steady flow of negative global and economic events, career disappointments, and the constant threat of being laid off. Customers are struggling to identify their path forward, which in turn makes it even more difficult for any business to determine their own plans for the future. The fear of post Enron scrutiny on business leaders and organizations is ever present. When will the “upturn” come?
In response, it seems companies are moving forward on the back of very conservative and “tactical” decisions and day-to-day activities. Why? Because they are much safer, and not as likely to be second-guessed. “Winning big” has become much less of a focus than not losing big! Unfortunately, tactical approaches focused on day-to-day survival versus a bigger picture do not prepare companies for the future, nor do they capture the immense value that is inherent in times of great change, uncertainty and disruption. And the longer this goes on, the more steep and slippery the slope on which they reside becomes! But again, when will the “upturn” come?
Sad news . . . the general upturn that many are hoping will arrive to “save them” is not coming. It will be up to each and every company to uniquely and quickly use every part of the current business environment they face to literally create their own upturn!
For a company to create and continuously advance their own business upturn, they will need to amass the full knowledge, talent, experience and capabilities of their organization and in certain cases introduce some outside influences to:
· Identify the “what, where and when” of their current environment while
· Simultaneously identifying “exploitable discontinuities” and related new mountain tops for the future, and then . . .
· Develop short, mid and long-term commitments and plans that tactically harvest the most out of today without compromising placement for success tomorrow.
Below are some steps that can help companies quickly accomplish this:
1. Identify the “upturn team” and include:
· “Quiet leaders”, “unsung heroes”, and possibly a “cynic” or two.
· Those involved with the current situation at a management / tactical level.
· New employees (and especially those from other industries or companies).
· Business development, market research, “future minded” personnel (internal or external).
· Those who are feeling the most “stress” from the current circumstances such as:
· Functional leads
· Strategic management
· Vendors who supply clients
· Customer support/feedback centers of knowledge
· Financial stakeholders
2. Challenge the “upturn team” to fully:
· Define and validate the current conditions with facts, not anecdotal conclusions.
· Identify and understand the conditions that drive the current situation.
3. Analyze the causal source of the conditions, their interrelationships, and identify patterns, trends, future “points of change” and impacts, potential market “backlashes”, new opportunities, etc. and focus on the “critical few ” items that will have the greatest potential to create upturn value.
4. Brainstorm and develop “value scenarios” that optimize the near and medium term with a view toward maximizing the long term.
5. Coordinate value scenarios with infrastructure development plans and financial capability to identify and eliminate “barriers to success” and validate return on investment before beginning.
6. Communicate the vision and the tactical details as they apply to each participant to create a constant “call to action” for successful implementation.
7. Compliment and encourage what people start, and enthusiastically celebrate what they finish!
Fear, uncertainty, and lack of ownership often inhibit participation, creativity and expression of thoughts and ideas. It is usually beneficial to utilize internal or even external facilitators to overcome these concerns. In so doing, companies often find they have created a “process” for thinking strategically AND tactically to ensure the “upturn” created becomes a company way of life, versus a one-time event!
Copyright 2003, PBK Communications. All rights reserved.