Don't let a dramatic event stop your tracks before you get the lessons learned or get the message.
Improve your value and organizational value rapidly by cutting off the status quo that no longer serves your mission, purpose, and strategies.
It is easy to be riding on the waves when the economy is on an upswing, everyone likes the ride up there, the air is thin but fresh.
When the economy tanks out, everyone thinks about cutting their losses and downsizing to manageable levels.
It is time to stop reacting to world events, economic catastrophes, outside offers, and deals. It is time to start innovating and building a better base for tomorrow by thinking for the future, not for the past and the present. It will be stale by the time you launch it.
Remember- stop waiting for a dramatic event. By that, it means one thing- you are being let go and the organization has suffered more to deserve a radical shakedown.
When people I met asked, are you concentrating on business growth strategy? I always say, not necessarily.
See, a lot of people confuse business strategy with business growth. Well, there is no way but advancing and moving up, right? But there are many complex questions around growth and strategy that need to be unpacked. It is not a simple proposition at all.
For now, the concept of business strategy is fundamental to any well-functioning organization, whether you are nonbusiness or a business entity. But it does not mean that it is about growth.
What is growth by the way? It is a fundamental question that the organization needs to ask. Where are you growing from? What does growth mean to you? It is bigger, better, more revenues, customers, worldwide distribution, becoming a business empire with acquisitions, etc. What does 'growth' mean to your stakeholders-shareholder, partners, customers, staff/employees? From where do you have to grow from? Where- is a good question to ask.
A colleague of mine who sits with me in a nonprofit advisory committee told her husband that they don't need to buy five more cows in order to grow. They run a cow/milk businesses as a family and that they founded it from the bottom up. Having five more cows do not constitute growth, to her it is just more work.
Correctly put, having more, bigger, better do not constitute growth at all. What are you actually sacrificing in order to get 'bigger, better, having more'? It is definitely a zer0-sum game because there is a question of scarce resources, time, energies, and attention.
What kind of growth are you pursuing? There is a myth that you have to grow superfast, big, and outdo all the competition at the same time. Peter Drucker, the best management strategist of all time, said that a growth policy has to distinguish between healthy growth, fat, and cancer. They are all growth but the last two are negative, deleterious growth.
Being obese as an organization is a temptation to have but not sustainable in the long run. More organizations are being 'fat' that actually not having real growth experience in their midst. The fat has to be trimmed off to pursue real growth objectives.
What economies, cities, and organizations need is sustainable long-term growth strategy, that consider the changes in the environment, their unique strengths, and the growth opportunity present in those areas.
I was on a phone call last week talking to a major trade association staff. I inquired about the program I thought was still running and getting a lot of engagement from their membership based from the website page I viewed.
It turned out that that program did not exist anymore. It was terminated in 2015 after a few years running it due to many reasons. I inquired about other programs that they may have.
The staff, very knowledgeable about their association told me that based on their strategy, they would like to provide thought leadership through resources, information, knowledge products they produced on a regular basis. Because of this, they cannot be doing something else that might distract them or be contrary to this organizational goal.
Very well said.
I wish that a lot of organizations have effectively articulated and communicated where their organization is going and how to get there to all the vital organs of the organization, including the staff, volunteers, and key clients/customers.
As I was told, then I become more aware of their work and the kind of business strategies they have to operate effectively in this challenging environment.
The best strategies do not stay on the shelf, gathering dust. It is lived and experienced and harnessed by all the people and stakeholders that take time to develop and nurture them to shepherd its successful implementation.
I am a customer that is now more informed.
Imagine a balloon. It expands and once it reached its maximum point, it will stop expanding and start exploding.
Rapid, unbridled, uncontrollable growth creates pressures and issues for the organization. Capacity is over-stretched than normal, new needs are required to make it successful. There is a tendency to forsake other boring functions in the organization to service the change which had left a huge demand for management and staff. A huge imbalance threatens order and stability. The management is left to fend for itself to put back a new normal of arrangements. In short, caught with its pants down.
When times are great, they roll and frolic, not making/creating strategies that will outlast the growth in a measured way. There is a tendency to ride on the high wave unaware of the risks and threat, but when the wave disappears leaving the organization unable to sustain the growth. They crash into the shore with battered limbs.
It can be a major capital gain, major project, a business partner that has to be serviced, a new donor with high demands, program scope creep, new acquisition, etc. Anything that has been committed and is eating a major chunk of organizational resources without clear and compelling alignment to the overall business strategy.
This is an unsustainable and non-desirable growth that you don't want to have.
Be careful when you wish for growth. Only with the alignment to strategy can you justify investing in more and more for far greater returns.
For business owners, corporate management, Boards and Directors of non-profits,
this is a continuation on the series on the fundamental questions that relate to the over-all strategy of the organization.
What key issues do you want to address?
This involves an analysis of your key drivers of successes, your main challenges, and the kinds of environment the organization is up against.
This is also involves strategic thinking not planning as the latter is mere extrapolation of the present. It wont get you any where.
This is also about considering what key issues are vital to the success of the strategy as well as issues that the strategy is fundamentally rearranging, addressing/resolving.
Remember a strategy is a forward-motion vehicle to your destination. It doesn't have a reverse gear!
Did you know that Albert Einstein's brain was dissected after he died and scientists tried to figure out his genius by doing that? That is an extreme measure.
Most of the time, we try to decipher the inner thoughts of our leaders and managers to get a glimpse of their thought processes so that we can have clues to the rationale behind their actions and motivations.
Imagine your supervisor, CEO, head of the division, owner of the company starts doing something that nobody understands. This happens more than you think. Well, the old man doesn't know how to communicate or much less articulate where exactly the business is going and if our jobs will be the next in the firing line.
Companies who haven't made the implicit explicit suffer from unnecessary complexities. Without clear, rational, and strategic thinking, CEOs and leaders cannot articulate and galvanize support from their managers and staffers. Too many times, assumptions that do not conform to the realities of the market, and honest valuation of where the business is growing, where threats are coming from, on and so forth, lose its meaning. Take the case of Sears. The giant company folded up recently because the CEO has lost sight of why it was a great success in the past, forces a new strategy that is totally alien to their core DNA and thus imploded from within.
The challenge is getting the implicit assumptions out and putting on the table, dissecting it, challenging it, validating it, and raising it up to pass the standards of what the market requires and what assets the organization have/can muster. That is the place where strategic thinking starts in organizations. Alternatives can only be sought if the original idea has been validated to be no longer tenable in the context of the competitive landscape, obsolescence of product/services, or organizational failure.
Steve Jobs started with the strategy where personal computers are present in every homes-this strategy is part of the larger vision for computers to become part of the lives of people-not just in companies and institutions as computing tools for business. Avon believes in the Avon lady-as the business strategy that underlies the assumptions that the best distribution is through personal connections & word-of-mouth than using a store-front retail approach.
The best organizations have truly expressed in many creative ways what they stand for, their values and operational missions, their business strategies, and their stories that connect with their stakeholders in a compelling way.
The journey towards their next level of growths starts with understanding why the status quo no longer works/or why it is viable and define the possibilities that can come from that realization.
Do you want a piece of Einstein's brain? Hmmm.