Break from the Pack

By on May 10, 2009
Break from the Pack

The good news is that the recession will end – someday. The bad news is that when it does come to an end, many businesses will be unable to take advantage of the rebound. Reasons why:

  • Many organizations have offered buyouts to senior people, many of whom carry much of the organization’s intellectual property in their heads. Company history and culture are important elements of the organization’s success, and provide employees with behavioral norms and motivation to improve. Long-time employees take this information with them when they leave.
  • Senior leadership in many companies is aging, and many high level leaders are considering or actively planning retirement when the business (and investment) climate improves. If a company has not planned for this contingency and developed an active leadership pipeline, they could be left adrift in the next few years.
  • When times are tough, many organizations cut back on their training and new product development. The return on training investment is sometimes hard to identify, and R&D is expensive. This short-term approach to saving money can come back to bite the company, especially if the new product pipeline is empty when business improves and employees’ customer service and communication skills get rusty.
  • Some businesses choose to “just wait it out” and neglect to actively plan for the time when business improves. They think they can just pick up where they left off before the recession. The fact is that time and technology continue to march on, and without the ability to take advantage of new technology, some organizations will fail even when the overall business climate picks up.

We could go on, but rather than dwell on all the things that could go wrong, it’s more effective to look ahead. Oren Harari, author of Break from the Pack: How to Compete in a Copycat Economy, emphasizes the importance of not only trying to keep up with the competition, but to outstrip them and pull ahead of the pack. Harari offers these suggestions:

  • Build communication within the organization, eliminate silos, and make sure everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to planning and leadership.
  • Substitute “strategic thinking” for “strategic planning,” and involve as many people from the organization as possible, cutting through management levels.
  • Select and train talented employees and leaders, not to do a job, but to create value. The mark of an effective organization is that job descriptions are dynamic, not written in stone, and that new ideas should be encouraged and rewarded, not shot down.
  • Business talent should be liberated, not managed. The environment should be one of transparency and inclusion, with everyone being held responsible for continuous improvement in methods, systems, and value.

Successful companies in the next 5-10 years will not be the ones with size and physical assets. Success in the next phase will mean having the knowledge, talent, foresight, innovation, speed, mobility, and agility to take on the human and technological challenges that lie ahead.

Contact Barry Schapiro for more information.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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