Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Re-invent or become obsolete and history

Is it time to re-invent or transition your business? 

The world is a different place than it was in 1980.  If you have been in business for more than twenty years and are dong things they way you did when you started or even just five years ago – beware – times are changing faster than at any time in history and it’s only going to get worse do you have a choice – circle the wagons and keep doing what you have been doing for years or let go of conventional wisdom, sacred cows and traditional thinking and reinvent – yourself, your business, your association, your church – everything – or accept being left behind and losing everything.

Over the years I have worked with many organizations who for whatever reasons, decided that they needed to re-invent itself in order to remain a competitive and profitable enterprise in the marketplace.

During the same period, I have also observed hundreds of organizations that obviously needed to re-invent themselves but for whatever reasons failed to do so.  Let’s take a brief look at five of the critical areas that will have an impact on this process and will determine whether your re-invention is an exercise in futility or a successful transition.

What do I mean when I use the term - re-invent/transition?

Re-invent, re-discover, re-new, start over, begin again – the terms do not matter, what does are the attitudes, values, prejudices, opinions, expectations, fears, needs, desires and values of the owner or senior management who will ultimately drive the process.  Having said that, to me, when an organization needs to re-invent itself, for whatever reason, it implies that what was or used to be, is no longer working, effective, profitable or competitive.  It is time for one or more new: policies, strategies, structures, methods, procedures, expectations, rules, behaviors, leadership, direction, focus and even employees –  and probably all of them.

When is the right time to re-invent/transition your organization?

My experience tells me, that, the pain for management or the organization has to be significant enough, however this pain is manifested, before executives or management becomes willing to set a new course and transition its organization.  Unfortunately, because of; arrogance, ignorance, ego or all of the three, many organizations either never do it or recognize the need far too late and become just another business statistic or illustration of a bad example in some author’s book.  The time to re-invent is before you need to.  The time to do it is every year - at a minimum and maybe even every month.  Better to regularly condition your employees for consistent constructive and positive change and growth than to try and turn a battleship (your organization) around in a small harbor in twenty minutes with a less than motivated staff because they are not ready, equipped, motivated or interested in doing so.

How do you re-invent/transition your organization?

Let’s see if I can summarize one of my all-day seminars here in just a few sentences.  If you are not willing to seriously embrace, at a minimum, each of these steps, I recommend you save your money and let the market place decide your ultimate fate.

1)    You must be willing to let go of the day-to-day details that will drive this process.

2)    You must lock your ego and your prejudices and expectations in the closet.

3)    You must be committed to see the process through to its conclusion, no matter how long it takes or what it costs.

4)    You must empower your management team to implement and inspect the transition process - you can’t do it alone and still run the business. If you can you have bigger problems than this transition, believe me.

5)    You don’t lose your tradition al or fundamental values.

6)    You must trust your employees to pull the transition off.

7)    You need to lead the process, not manage it.

8)    You need to accurately assess your; willingness to change, let go, delegate, empower and live with the consequences.

9)    You should hire an outside resource to ensure that the above items are adhered to.  Your employees are not going to do it all without some impartial guidance and/or creativity.

10)You need to be an encourager and a champion of this process in both easy         and hard times.

11)  There’s a lot more, trust me but you would be amazed at how few organizations can do most or even in some cases any of the above.


Who should be involved in the re-invention/transition process?

This one is easy - anyone who can contribute ideas, reality, information, inspiration, creativity, value, feedback, accountability, integrity or support to the process and I mean everyone.

What will the new organization look like after the re-invention/transition process is complete?

It’s anyone’s guess.  In a rapidly changing world it is becoming increasingly difficult if not impossible to accurately forecast future outcomes. All you can do is remain flexible, open, receptive and willing to make change your partner and the partner of your organization.

So, it’s a choice – stay stuck and hope you survive or reinvent and get ahead or at a minimum stay with the trends and the curves ahead.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Failure to have an exit strategy is stupid.

Exit Strategies or is it Time to Pull the Trigger

Tim Connor

I can’t tell you how many times I have observed clients; develop new products, create new policies, acquire other companies, expand to new market areas and promote certain people when these were destined to fail either dramatically over time or shortly after the new decision was made. Or, people make a decision not feeling sure of the outcome as planned or hoped. Very little in life always turns out the way we want, need or hope or even feel we deserve and why? Well, folks it’s called – life.

Sooner or later some of our initiatives personally or in our career or business will fail.  Nothing in the future is guaranteed.  The major question is however – if we embark on this – something new – what are our chances of success or failure and how will the critical aspects involved impact the outcome?

You would be amazed at how many decisions for doing something new or different are made every day by millions of people who lack an exit strategy in the event things don’t turn out as they planned or hoped.

Before I share a few insights let me share that during my life and career I can’t tell you how many things went wrong or ended badly - whether a new enterprise, a new product, a new marketing approach, starting a new relationship (business or personal) or as simple as on a few occasions just buying a new product.  Been there?  If not I’ll bet you are either in denial or you are just sitting safely in front of your TV day after day.

What is an exit strategy?

Some people might refer to an exit strategy as a Plan B or even C but I’m not referring here to approaches that keep you involved in the same journey or direction but of letting go of the plan or strategy completely and moving on.

Yes, sometimes all that is needed to make something work is a new approach or change in some of the details but in the end consider the possibility that the plan is not working because it is a signal that it is time to let it go and move on to something else or new.

An effective exit strategy should be in place as a part of the original plan that have benchmarks in place that tell you if they are not being met you have two options – change the plan or end it.  Ending it is never easy especially if you have your ego vested in it from the beginning and this is far too common when people can’t let go when it’s obvious they should.

Please keep in mind I’m not giving you permission to quit or move on too soon without adequate effort, commitment, resources having been invested but there are times when it is time to let go.  I’m also not suggesting that you shouldn’t start something new that you are not sure will end as planned – but that there are times when throwing more money, time, resources or people at an initiative is naive or just plain stupid.  So how do you know whether or when you should keep on keeping on or pull the plug?

It depends on three factors –

Do you have the continued resources to see this through to the end no matter what the outcomes or how long it takes?

Do you have the commitment to see it through regardless of the pain, disruption or disappointment you are experiencing or may in the future?

Do you have the confidence, courage and will to see it through regardless of the uncertainties along the way?

Why do you need one?

Starting anything without an exit strategy in place before you begin just sets you up for frustration, stress, disappointment or anxiety assuming that your plans or effort will achieve their desired results.  This is just plain crazy and how do I know?  I’ll bet during your life, business or career you have ended something to late or wish you had pulled the plug or maybe not even starting it knowing what you know now.  Therein lies the problem – we can’t guarantee outcomes – we can only plan, work and hope but in the end there are always circumstances we can’t control. An exit strategy just gives you the timing, approach or reasons as to when to end something.  Without this I will guarantee you will invest too much of something trying to make it work and let’s face it – some things just don’t work.  The question ultimately is – how much and what are you willing to lose if it doesn’t work out the way you need it to, to be ultimately a successful enterprise, decision or action?