Monday, July 23, 2018

The "mayhem" guy is back! Protect your company from mayhem

 The "mayhem" guy is back! In a popular series of television commercials for a property and casualty insurance company, there is a "mayhem" character who causes unexpected disasters for auto owners. In one spot, he's a buzzing mobile phone that falls between the seats. A crash results when the distracted driver starts searching or it. Another has a satellite dish falling on a car; in yet another a navigation systems goes haywire causing a crash. The underlying message is that since mayhem is unavoidable, you need insurance. 
It struck me that companies generate their own versions of mayhem - things that may, on first blush, seem to occur unexpectedly, or are just considered unfortunate.
Here are some examples:
  • Discovering that you don't have the rights to use the trade name you've been using for 15 years
  • Discovering that your employees have been plagiarizing content that is used in your product
  • Employees that are developing your blockbuster new product all leave at once
  • A new competitive product offering undercuts your price by 60%
  • Your customers discover that one of your key suppliers has been substituting a hazardous or substandard material resulting in product malfunction or customer injuries
  • A new business model renders your product irrelevant
  • Discovering that new regulations no longer allow you to ship your product
  • Learning that there is no liability insurance for all the products in the field that you've made for the last 10 years...and a dangerous latent defect has just been discovered
  • Discovering that a "trusted" accounting clerk has methodically stolen $800,000 over the last 10 years
All of these are real stories. Some might say, "back luck." Synonyms for mayhem are chaos, disorder, confusion, turmoil. The dictionary defines mayhem as "needless damage." In truth, all of the above examples could have been identified ahead of time and most could have been avoided, or significantly mitigated. In strong economic times, companies can be myopic and can ignore the need for strategic planning, competitive scanning, and can defer implementing business processes and controls.

Some thoughts as you begin to prepare for 2019:
Develop a strategic growth and execution plan (Please - not another retreat, but a meaningful plan for execution).
  • Do a realistic assessment of where you are (exploitable strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
  • Perform a competitive scan, looking at traditional competitors as well as possible disruptive threats
  • Develop some scenarios of the future (including those at the extremes) and actions to be taken as these might play out
  • Plan how you might react to potential geopolitical events or the next economic downturn
  • Take a hard look at your culture - Are you living your values?
  • Develop specific actions, metrics and accountability to shore up the weaknesses, fill the gaps, address the risks, and take advantage of the opportunities and strengths
Don't let another year go by. Neglecting the next steps in your company's growth and maturity can be very short-sighted. You need to protect your company from mayhem! Contact me to discuss how we can help you do things a bit differently this year.