Today the pace of competition and the facets of competition have never been greater. With the complexity of new markets, more entrants as both customers and competitors, and the need for existing market players to adapt, how businesses have viewed their internal operations and external environment requires reassessment on a continuous basis. Furthermore, the world financial markets, as well as many businesses and industries, have become so interconnected that any significant misstep causes world-wide implications.
All Hail the “Gurus”, But Look Behind the Curtain
Companies that have been lauded as “great” in bestselling books are borderline performers or have even closed their doors. Companies that no one had heard of 10 years ago are now global giants in industries and technologies that also didn’t exist. Countries that were “third world” or “emerging” are today causing significant paradigm shifts in how business is done—locally, regionally, and globally. And then entire industries and icons of those industries, who were thought unable to make a misstep, are gone or in such shambles that even the “gurus” have to admit to being (gasp) wrong.
Countries that held world dominance in manufacturing (e.g., the United States) who had their leadership paradigms challenged by those then-emerging nations like Mexico are now seeing another generation of changes to India, China, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, and other countries. And before we know it, countries in Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe will be going through this growth. As the world as a whole eventually emerges from the most recent economic crisis and regroups and rethinks—we hope—its seemingly blind faith in certain companies, industries, and practices (shall we liken it to lemming-like behavior where one leads and everyone follows, even off the cliff …) what will the competitive market place look like? Who will emerge as competitive leaders equipped to manufacture? Innovate? Finance? Who will have the advantage and the know-how and be poised to take advantage?
In the face of what we now must recognize not as a temporary shift in global economy, but a revolutionary process in which global economies, markets, and their players (both producers and consumers) drive an expansion beyond artificially imposed nation borders into need-driven, demand-wielded motivation. This cycle of effectively finding resources, profitably providing products, and outdoing the competition is a cycle that continually requires reevaluation of every aspect of how, where, with whom, and when the business does business.
For a business to be profitable and to continue to exist, it must be focused on finding new ways to find and retain customers, operate, reduce costs, and stand out from the competition. It has to constantly be aware in every process and activity, at every level, of how all the pieces come together to generate profit on every sale, on every customer, on every product, on every business unit. And when something isn’t working, the business must ask the crucial questions: “Is there is a fix? What is the fix? What does it cost? Is the fix worth it?”
Business as Usual? Not Any More
The current economic crisis is about more than a single company or industry making bad decisions. It is about more than whether Congress should have imposed regulations and when. It isn’t about grandstanding Congressional investigations or finger pointing (although there are a host of people that should be held accountable and still more that need to be accountable for ongoing shortsightedness during the crisis). This is not business as usual. The time for looking outside the usual cast of characters for answers and stepping outside the circle of friends and family for solutions is NOW. If you want to chart a new path for an industry, for regulations, for oversight, don’t look to the usual suspects—or their cronies, cohorts, and fraternity brothers.
Automotive, banking, financial, and governmental groups want to operate with business as usual, with “SSDD: same shtuff, different day.” To compete, to save jobs, industries, and infrastructure, it is time to look for innovative approaches, win/win options, and get out of the box imposed by rooms full of the same faces. The enemy is within the board rooms and back rooms where the businesses aren’t run, the products aren’t made, and the sweat and the tears aren’t shed. To save industries and jobs, it takes guts. It takes the reality of being one of the sacrificed and at risk…not those in the ivory towers with their corporate jets. These people need to walk the plant floors, talk to the bank tellers, and visit the neighborhoods filled with the foreclosed houses. We all need to “get real” and find answers. Main Streets all over the world make countries and industries competitive. Find the answers on Main Street, where practicality meets reality.
Copyright ©2008 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.
All Rights Reserved