Is it ever 'Business as Usual"?
This morning I attended a presentation put on by the Family Business Alliance. I was prepared for a program that was informative and well done, but what I observed was something much more than that. I typically avoid attending programs that cover the usual “hot topics”. I find it is often difficult to get as much value from them as I should, primarily because it is difficult to put their ideas into the context of what my clients urgently need. The end result is that after a few hours and more so, after a few days, I’ve generally forgotten most of the salient points discussed.
Sometimes the best value is the indirect impact
However, today I was impressed in that the critical points were ones that can provide great value to an organization over time and therefore are worth revisiting on a regular basis. Although, the audience today was made up primarily of family owned businesses, and the discussion revolved in that realm, the truths seemed to have application to most organizations.
The speaker was Greg McCann, author, professor, and business owner. Throughout his presentation he would say, “If you are taking notes, write this down.” and so we would. One such item I liked a lot: Culture will defeat strategy every time. I also heard some wise insights mentioned by the audience. One of those that I thought highly insightful concerned why a member attended the various events. He said, “It was not so much about what he learned, but that such events usually got him thinking.” To me this was very notable. So many of us just want someone to give us the answer and so we seek out the “Hot Topic” discussion.
Change is Upon Us.
A few years ago, I started keeping a list each January describing what I perceived as change over the prior year. Although interesting to me, I’ve discovered how inadequate my practice is. During todays program we viewed a You-Tube clip to emphasize the “exponential” change that is surrounding us. Watch this and you’ll see why I may have to revamp my practice.
What YOU Must Do
The real point about the video is that we have to be visionary about our businesses, where we are going and how we are going to get there. Without a plan we will be sitting on the sidelines much sooner than we ever dreamed and it has nothing to do with the recession. A strategic plan is an absolute necessity. As part of that plan you have to identify your strategic advantage, who is responsible to look after and manage the advantage and also the plan itself.
And remember that culture trumps strategy, so they have to be aligned. Communication and actions are the keys to management of culture. So, if you see today as getting back to business as usual, you are what they call 'Dead Meat'.
Nothing Changes - Unless You Do by Ardon Schambers
Nothing Changes - Unless You Do
A few years ago I was starting my first consulting company, one of my potential partners decided he would take some time to sail, before getting too involved. A 5 month excursion turned into a seven year lifestyle change. Eventually he decided maybe he needed to go back to work. He was very apprehensive about his ability to contribute. He had previously held a significant Human Resources position with a local leading company. We assured him he would be OK.
My associate’s main concern was the changes in regulations and how people managed in the new progressive environment. After a few months of several clients and a variety of projects, an evening discussion over a glass of wine or two, covered various issues and solutions. My associate finally stated he was doing just fine in the consulting game. A single observation seemed to sum up his thoughts: Nothing has changed. The same type of employees are the problems; managers make the same mistakes at the same point in their career progression, and the driving forces behind business decisions is pretty much the same. The regulations are a sideline.
What about results?
In many instances the results are the same, because processes are the same. Where the results are less forthcoming, it may be the result of a new type of competition, or the market is focused on a new need. One new element in the picture that seems to be impacting results is the use of technology in smaller niches of business operations. All sorts of people are using computers, smart phones, e-books and applications for unique situations. The compounding of these little changes is making a difference. It is slowly cutting back on the need for people with limited skills.
Those people who (I hate to use this phrase, but) “think outside the box” are shaping the world around us in a number of subtle ways. They are the people who are essential to the organization if it is to be sustained. They are the people who progressive organizations must attract and retain.
Every time business starts to ramp up, managers and owners begin to focus on critical resources and what they need. A light bulb goes on and someone says we can’t afford to lose Billie Bob, or Sara Slick. So the first thing they do is throw some money at them and the price wars begin. New surveys are starting to show the re-occurring trend. Then the cost of employees gets out of hand and everything evolves in much the same fashion as in the past. But like lemmings we line up doing the same things to retain the critical employees and keeping things in balance with the rest of the staff.
So my old associate seems to be right, time goes by, but nothing changes. It reinforces the old adage that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So let me propose a new strategy and process:
1) Don’t wait until the crisis occurs, find out what your essential employees are thinking and react early.
2) Create an environment that is more valuable than money to attract and hold employees.