When I was a boy, and asked “what do you want to do when you grow up?”, instead of saying fireman or policeman, I would say, “Be a time & efficiency expert”… having evolved into the quasi wish-come-true version of that, I find it enormously frustrating to watch, and doubly frustrating when my assistance is refused, because I can see the solutions, or alternatives, for businesses in trouble.
All around, I see businesses doing it tough, going bad, or just struggling. Other businesses appear to be raking in sales, but losing money through habitual and comfortable routine inefficiencies.
Sadly, bogus consultants, operational ‘experts who have failed to help’ and snake-oil sales folk, have all tarnished the promise of salvation, so these struggling companies – so close to the trees they can’t see the forest – struggle on… doing what they always do, and getting the results they have always gotten. 😦
Years ago, I came across research into how to stop a business bleeding, and how to turn it around, that is summarised below in 8 points…
- Accept you must do things differently
- Stop & plan: Work on the business, not in it
- Listen to your customer service & sales people
- Re-evaluate the capabilities of your advisors
- Listen to customers
- Study your closest competitors
- Milk every asset, call in every favour
- Move out of your comfort zone
But there are MANY ways to skin a cat.
I remember being served “Cuy” (cooked guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy) in Peru at the bottom of Machu Picchu…. Having just finished the trek and in celebratory mode, I recall eating regardless of the fact it looked and tasted like rat (and probably was). The point is, that if you can identify a different market, and position a core product in a different context, you can satisfy new customers with old capabilities (even that pesky kitchen rat!).
THIS is a skill that is beyond operational thinking. It is the domain of power for creative strategists. and goes to the heart of most of the 8 points above.
When executives, who are struggling, say, “we have leading industry experts on our Board and they can’t do anything” or “I can’t afford consultant right now”… yet their inner voice tells them they are headed for doom, these 8 points may be the wake up call necessary.