Friday, 12 February 2016

Survival Guide

As I have noted here, several times, we are uncharted territory.  So I thought that this primer might serve as a helpful reminder of how to cope until things improve.  Feel free to add to the list, and send along your thoughts for all the share.

  1. Hire people who will work for minimum wage.  After all, in these times no one expects superior service, value for money, or a pleasant disposition from the people who represent you.  Why pay more when it does not really matter?
  2. Hold off on any investments that will make people more productive.  Keep old computers, cell phones and internal systems.  No one is spending money these days so it would be a waste of resources to make it easy to deal with you.
  3. Refrain from using any social media.  Facebook is a fad; the internet is insecure; and all the other options are only being used by kids in high school...and that is not your target market.  Until they come up with something better than a fax machine, trust word of mouth to promote your business.
  4. Lower your prices.  Being the cheapest has always been a tried and true marketing approach. Look at Apple.  Their cell phones and computers cost way more than competitors and where has that got them?
  5. When you sell at a lower cost you can justify lowering your quality too.  So see how you can cut corners.  Should people not get what they pay for.
  6. Rule by fear; its a proven motivational approach.  And it will ensure that no one troubles you with recommendations for improvements that you will ignore anyway.
  7. Resist external advice.  What the hell does anybody else know about how to run a business. Besides, most of that advice will cost you something and why pay for another opinion.  You already have lots of opinions of your own!
  8. Wait it out.  Things will eventually return to normal.  The last decade or so has simply been an aberration (look it up).  Then let the good times roll again.
  9. If things really get tough, the government will know what to do.  You can count on a bail out because they are simply flush with cash and they are in the rescue business.
  10. When all else fails, cheat.  You have a second lifetime to rebuild your reputation.
So there you have it.  This is by no means a comprehensive list but it will give that jump start you have been looking for.  Oh, I forgot, you already knew all these things.  You are just glad to have to have someone else confirm it for you...

Friday, 5 February 2016

Fool's Gold.

It is perhaps an understatement to suggest that we are in difficult or uncertain economic times.  We are forging a new normal and events around the world impact us in ways that they never did before. 

To be certain, we have experienced crises before.  Oil has had dramatic changes several times in the past.  Recessions or depressions have come and gone. The impact of a new rising economy such as that in China has happened before. Central banks have intervened at various points in history. But what has not occurred is the perfect storm of all these things happening at once.  Economists, politicians, financial analysts and business leaders are all grappling to determine the impact in their regions, countries or companies.

What is the reality?  Lily Tomlin, in her brilliant one woman performance "In search of intelligent life in the universe" posed this question to her character.  She opined that reality was '...nothing more than a collective hunch...'  She may have been on to something!

As a leader, how are you to respond?  I submit that these are times when common sense must prevail.  There is no value in assuming that somehow your company can swim against the current and be unscathed by current events.  While that may be true in hindsight, setting goals and objectives that are unachievable is both foolish and disheartening for your employees. 

They read; they listen; they know the problems that we are facing.  If your strategy is one which ignores reality, then a bunker mentality is going to set in.  And when you call  'charge', not many will be willing to leave the fold in search of fools gold.

We are running a marathon right now and we need to prepare and respond accordingly. It might be true that you miss an opportunity in the short term, but if that presents a serious issue, then you have bigger problems that you need to address!

Pollyanna was a fictitious character.  But your responsibilities are real.  For the benefit of all, plan accordingly.