Learned from 2009
Holly G. Green
Wow, what a
year! 2009 has come and gone, and many of us are taking a huge sigh
of relief. Going through one of the worst recessions in U.S.
history will certainly take the wind out of your sails. But we
appear to have weathered the worst of the storm. And while the
economy might not rebound with the speed and vigor we would like, it
at least appears to be heading in the right direction again.
So what did we
learn from the trials and tribulations of the past year? And how
can we apply those lessons going forward? Here are 10 things I
believe that leaders need to do differently to position their
businesses for success in 2010.
1) Get used
to the likelihood there will be no normal anymore. The old
business world that most of us knew and loved went away with the
recession, and it’s not coming back. To adapt to today’s business
realities, question all your beliefs and assumptions, get
comfortable with uncertainty, and adjust your expectations. For
most, the new ‘normal’ will be slow and sustained growth rather than
a hockey-stick curve and it will continue to surprise us.
2) Break the
rules. If you’re not breaking rules on a regular basis, your
customers and markets have probably already left you behind. The
new rule for today’s chaotic markets is to constantly challenge the
status quo. Don’t automatically assume that what made you
successful in the past will continue to make you successful in the
and minimize your “MSUs.” We all constantly MSU (make stuff up)
about our company, industry, and markets. During the strategic
planning process, put everyone’s beliefs and assumptions out on the
table and ask, “What do we think we know to be absolutely true about
our customers, competitors and markets? Is it still true? If not,
what has changed and how do we need to respond to that change?” Get
data and question your long standing beliefs constantly.
social media. Embracing social media can be a real competitive
advantage. In addition to instantly connecting you with customers,
social media enables you to “mindshare” with industry peers,
demonstrate thought leadership, recruit talent and more. Study the
social media habits of your customers, and use the appropriate tools
to make them part of your community.
more transparency. With the advent of social media, you can no
longer control public perception by limiting information about your
company and products. When you withhold information, today’s
bloggers, twitterers and forum posters will make it up for you. The
next generation of market leaders will excel at using social media
to create transparency and build trust with their key stakeholders.
Communicate to fill the void. Today’s employees are beset with
doubts, uncertainties and fears about their jobs. If you don’t tell
them what is going on, they will fill the void with rumors and
misinformation, usually negative. Constantly let employees know
where the organization is going and what your plan for winning is.
In today’s world, you can’t over-communicate.
strategic thinking. Strategic planning involves a formal
process whereby senior management peers into the future and charts a
course of action for the organization. Strategic thinking occurs
when the entire organization begins to act in concert with the
strategic plan. Teach your people to anticipate opportunities and
threats while managing the day-to-day tasks that fall within their
scope of responsibilities.
innovation a way of life. Innovation needs to become an
integral part of the way you do business, not just a one-time
event. Constantly challenge the way you do things, even when they
have always worked well. Strive to create new products, services
and ideas that have real value for stakeholders. Look for different
and novel ways to deal with ongoing challenges. Constantly seek to
implement new and better ways of achieving results.
9) Slow down
to go fast. In times of uncertainty, prepare to pause, focus,
and plan. Learn to anticipate the unanticipated by making scenario
planning part of your daily routine rather than an afterthought when
plans don’t pan out. Take the time to consider multiple
perspectives and engage others who have diverse views. This may
feel like slowing down, but will actually help you get where you
want to go much faster.
10) Get back
to basics. When everything around you diverts you into
complexity, get back to basics. Make strategic planning a way of
life in your organization. Use a strategic planning framework to
drive what you do and where you focus your energies. Constantly
check for internal and external forces that may impact where you’re
going, what you need to do and how you need to do it. Organize your
day around achieving your destination, and focus on informing,
inspiring and engaging others in getting there.
Those are my top
10 tips for success in 2010. I’d love to hear what you plan to do
differently going forward. Here’s wishing you clarity, focus, and
great success in the New Year!
Read other articles and learn more about
Holly G. Green.
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