Friday, April 17, 2009

"Management Needs to Build Flexibility into Planning...Plus the Faith and Courage to Execute"

(from Issues for Growth Vol.18, No. 6)

We have been working with our clients to help them understand what this new world might look like and how best to prepare to take advantage of opportunities. While you cannot predict the future, you and your management team need to prepare your company. That includes looking at various possibilities of the future, determining what your company’s desired position might be, and focusing the team on the top things that will put your company in position to thrive.

Recently, Jim Collins, renowned author of the classic business books Built to Last and Good to Great, was interviewed by Inc. Magazine and had some great advice for companies weathering the current financial crisis. If you read the entire article, you may find that Collins has some potentially scary words for businesses in today's climate. Collins spends a good deal of the interview discussing the similarities of the bursting of the tech bubble nearly 10 years ago, and says that we're in for an era marked by turbulence.
In the article, Collins talks about the difference between risk and ambiguity and the need for an unwavering faith in our abilities and the courage to act. If you read the entire article, Collins spends a good deal of the interview discussing the similarities of the bursting of the tech bubble nearly 10 years ago, and says that we're facing an era marked by turbulence.

Business People in this Crisis are Mountain Climbers
Collins used the analogy of business people as mountain climbers. It hit me that we're all heading up there, whether we like it or not. We're heading into a world characterized by big events, big forces, massive storms. We're going to be vulnerable little specks high on the mountain when the storm hits out of nowhere. And if we're not prepared, we're going to die up there. Or we're going to be in real serious trouble.
But Collins doesn't just speak of woe and trouble. His advice surrounds staying sharp and maintaining your skills in this ever-changing world of business. He may not be painting the rosiest picture of the economic future, but he's far from pessimistic.

Stand Strong in the Face of Ambiguity and Uncertainty
It is only in times like these that you get a chance to show your strength. In the end, I think we need to have absolute faith in our ability to deal with whatever is thrown at us. And we need to have a complete, realistic paranoia that a lot can be thrown at us. It's our ability to put those two contradictory ideas together: We need to be prepared for what we can't predict and, at the same time, have this total, unwavering faith that we will find a way to deal with all the uncertainty and the courage to can what we know must be done.

Right now, we could all use some of Collins' "unwavering faith." If you are staring into the rest of 2009 and beginning to doubt your organization's ability to ride it out, take a minute to check whether it's just that realistic paranoia that he says we should all have, or whether you need a dose of faith. If you find that's the case, we always say that a good, flexible and “executable” strategic plan is a great source of faith and courage! The entire article can be found at

How well is your company prepared to respond to these challenging times?

Are you taking control of the things that you can? Are your actions strengthening your company - or weakening it? Are you building flexibility into your plans? Are your managers able to adapt quickly to rapidly changing market environments? Have you changed your approach to planning?

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