We live in interesting times. The rapid changes that thrust Wall Street into a tailspin these past few weeks has created a business environment that is far different from anything we've seen in the past. The panic on Wall Street has rippled quickly from the investment community into the executive suites of all of organizations and down the line to each and every employee. Everyone is talking about how to react. What are the impacts to our nation? Our economy? Our business? Us?
Towards the end of the week we began to see the first salvos on recommended action from leaders in the technology sector. One that caught my eye was The Tech Downturn: How long and how bad? from Jim Kerstetter at CNET. It started off with the usual prognostications for a long downturn and quoted several VC's who are advising their clients to "hunker down, cut costs fast and deep because those who do will be in the best shape to survive."
This is where things start to get really stupid really fast.
We don't want to debate the financial realities of running a business right now nor the right of the investment community to counsel in ways that protect their investments. But, we've seen this act before and it ends badly. Companies whose very first action it is to cut often cut the wrong things and position themselves weaker than when they started. Why? Because the moves they make are all based on the past and not the future. They're tactical and not strategic. And if there is one thing we know for sure, it's the future is going to be a far different environment than we are in today. You need a strategy that aligns you to where you are going, not where you've been.
How many times have you seen a death spiral started by these actions? Making decisions without a complete and accurate view of what your strengths and weaknesses are in the world you will be living in for the next several months and years is nuts! Yet, that's exactly what many companies will do in the coming months. They'll guess, assume and then tell the world they've made the changes to keep them healthy through this downturn when in reality, they have no idea whether they really are or not.
We think there is a much better way, a more pragmatic approach to dealing with the situation that you and your business are now in. And we're going to take the next 10 weeks to talk about it in this blog and then package it together in an e-book and webinar for delivery in December. We're calling it Winning in a Down Economy: A Pragmatic Guide to Getting Tuned In. It will cover the top 10 things you should be spending your time on right now that will prepare you for a healthy 2009 and beyond.
For those of us impatient types, here are the cliff notes. The game plan will focus on three macro ideas:
- Accept that you don't know what you don't know right now. Get real and increase the reliability of your decision making by gathering the data your organization craves about the market ... the thoughts of your buyers, their likely actions and your most valuable solutions to their problems.
- Develop a conservative plan of attack. The filter for your strategies needs to be built on a solid foundation ... a real connection to what the market needs now and what your organization has a unique ability to deliver and execute flawlessly. Focus your action plan on that core.
- Overhaul your marketing engine. Now more than ever, you're going to need to be able to create an authentic relationship with your buyers that are based on a solid understanding the realities they face and how they want to do business with you. Provide a more flexible mix of services vs. hype that builds an experience that they'll appreciate.
Here's what many of you will find. There are great opportunities for you and your business ahead. They are just different than you envisioned them three months ago. That's neither a good nor a bad thing necessarily, just a reality. Deal with it and move on. The process of aligning should only come after you've tuned in. Otherwise, you'll find yourself aligning and aligning over and over again for the next several years. Until you align yourself right out of business.
We look forward to the conversation over the next ten weeks. Enjoy the journey!