Red Zebra Business Centre -Management Memos
February, 2009. Making Measurably More For Your Business Since 1985!

Despair is not an option!!

Max Williams, Principal Consultant

News hits this week that the Japanese economy is contracting faster than it has at any time in the last 35 years. It comes in top of news that the UK economy is at its lowest ebb for the last 35 years, and that UK mortgage finance is in such short supply that banks are rationing housing finance.

That overseas news hits home with local news of 400 jobs going at Virgin Blue, and five planes going out of service, 1500 job cuts signalled at Qantas, a $!Bn rail and port project mothballed in Queensland. These items are just the high points of domestic economic news.

Recent news of the GM recovery plan in the US seems to foreshadow Australian job losses at GM-Holden too.

The bad news keeps coming.

In this kind of environment, despair is just not an option. Neither is having a gritty determination to survive the simple option! If there was ever a time to get on the front foot - this most surely is it.

At recent Client meetings, we have seen a number of different faces of the challenging circumstances we're facing right now. In every case there are several strategies available to go forward vigorously towards a clearly defined, attainable, and desirable goal.

Not all of these strategies fit the personal goals of the business owners, but always there is something the owners want - that can be achieved. Breaking the mould of the habits of the last ten years is crucial to starting out along these new 'Strategic Pathways'.

No, despair is not an option - but starting on your 'Strategic Pathway' is.

This edition of Management Memos just might help you find the start of the 'yellow brick road', your 'Strategic Pathway' to success that's more than just survival!

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Strategic Pathway?


t times like this, there can be despair at what the future might bring, or denial that anything is wrong, or that anything could go wrong. Alternatively, it's easy to think it will all be OK - when everything is back to normal. A more positive attitude will lead to planning so that whatever happens, you are in control. This is the time strategic planning really comes into its own. After all, that's when you need a plan, isn't it? When the future is uncertain, and the way forward is just not clear?

'Normal' will never be normal again!

Just the other day, a client observed that everything is really alright. "All we have to do is to get our sales back on track. When things get back to normal, it'll all be OK".

A few weeks previously, a group of client staff responded after a day in a sales training session, in just the same kind of way - exactly the way they had been trained five years ago when we weren't in a recession. "When we get back on track, we'll be OK".

Put very simply, all these responses show is a desire for the way things have been, rather than see things as they are now!

Of course, the real disappointment here was that the sales training session was titled "How to Sell in Recession". A set of new sales techniques, set in a new market paradigm. The course attendees had simply been unable to grasp the fundamental changes taking place in the market.

What has been 'normal' in the last few years has now changed completely. Perhaps in a few years, those market conditions will return. But it will be a few years, and in the meantime, businesses have to go about their daily business, and survive and thrive. So, for the h\next few years, get used to a different kind of 'normal'.


Be flexible - not proud

One thing that's strong in all of us, is self justification.We know our businesses, we know our markets, and we know what has worked and what hasn't. Good! That's a beginning.

Right now we need to find new ways, new opportunities, and new goals. That means seriously questioning every aspect of your business. Every aspect!

Products and services that once were not a good proposition might now be full of promise. Markets you could not reach, may now be accessible. Processes once thought impossible might now be fully viable.

Open everything to scrutiny. Everything. You'll be so glad you did!

Plan how to take advantage

Once every part of the business has been scrutinised, you will come to a revelationary moment. Just about everything will look best to stay just the way it is!

What is important, is that you will have identified only one or two things that really need to be looked at in more detail - because they offer a new opportunity. These are the gems.

When you do look at these real gems in detail, you will see that changes here will impact on a wider scale. One by one, a whole lot of your business will have to be re-invented in response to these new opportunities.

What are you doing? Developing a strategic plan, that's what! The quality of the outcomes you get from this plan will depend on the quality of the planning you put into the details.

Doing this gives you a pro-active response to the changing business world around you. It is giving you your 'Strategic Pathway' forward!

Or take the 'Yellow Brick Road'!

The alternative to taking this strategic planning step, is to hold onto the hope that everything will be alright. After all, the President of the United States of America has said the recession will start to get better by the end of the year - and he must be right.

Then there is always the knowledge that once we did better than this, and if we can only get back on track, it will be alright. Both these notions ignore the precedents of past recessions. It will be some years - almost certainly close to five - before genuinely better conditions prevail across the board.

Dorothy, The Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and Toto all followed The Yellow Brick Road to the fanciful Land of Oz.

Going forward now without a strategic plan is just as fanciful.

Far better to develop a strategic plan, and then you will have your 'Strategic Pathway'. It is much more effective than The Yellow Brick Road!

If you'd like to find out more about creating a 'Strategic Pathway', talk to us, or ask us a question here! Remember, there's no charge or obligation.

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