The Two Business Questions Everyone Wants Answers To

By | January 22, 2009

In today’s unique business environment there are two questions that should be occupying all business peoples’ minds.

  1. What is going to happen?
  2. What should I change in my business in the light of what is going to happen?

These seem impossible questions, the kind of questions that you need crystal ball reading abilities to answer.

What Is Going To Happen?

The Knowns

  • Consumer spending is not going to return to the unsustainable levels of 2007, as per capita debt reduces and saving increases.
  • House prices will continue to fall as a function of the economy rebalancing.
  • Consumer confidence will not return until the fear of redundancy recedes.
  • The banks will only move as fast as the government forces them too.
  • Things will improve.

The Unknowns

  • How quickly liquidity will return to the banking system.
  • Whether the government will have to fully nationalise the banks and if they do whether they then will be as dynamic and bold as will be required.
  • Future unknown forces yet to materialise. Bad ones like the Madoff scandal and (potentially) good ones like Barack Obama’s first 100 days.
  • Our own government’s handling of the crises.
  • When things start to improve (green shoots yet anyone?).

Which brings us to the second question

What Should I Change In My Business In The Light Of What Is Going To Happen?

You cannot predict the future only prepare for it as best you can. You will have read the operational, obvious (but still important) business checklists around what you should do. Click Here for a selection.

The first requirement is that you have done all that is needed, ready for what is to come, as best as you can predict.

The second is to try to be as adaptive as possible, no sacred cows, no red lines, but constantly applying a pragmatic view of what you might need to do.

What you are seeking are not solutions but options. The organisations most likely to survive are the ones with options. Seek options not solutions.

To help with your thought processes it might be worth revisiting Peter Drucker’s Theory Of Business and look at the following

  • The specific purpose of the organisation.
  • Assumptions about the environment of the organisation.
  • The core competencies needed to accomplish the organisation’s purpose.

Taken together, these assumptions define what an organisation gets paid for, what results it considers meaningful, and what it must excel at to maintain its competitive position.

The actions and decisions you take in the next 6-9 months will determine whether you control the destiny of your organisation.

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