The Gutsball Blog

Out of Chaos Comes Opportunity.  Maybe

Out of Chaos Comes Opportunity.  Maybe

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a while.  Between Hurricane Sandy and business travel, the month of November was a bear.  But now, I’m back and sharing with you my view that 2013 is shaping up to be a tough year. “Really?  Speak to us, oh oracle.  Enlighten us with your brilliant insight!”

Well, as my good friend and longtime colleague, Dan McCarthy, likes to say “out of chaos comes opportunity.”  I couldn’t agree more.  The question is, are you in a position to take advantage of the situation immediately or are you, yourself battling headwinds that require remedial measures first?

If you’ve been operating with sound management principles and solid discipline, chances are you’re in a good position to make some moves that will enable you to get even further out in front of the pack.  By the way, my usual cautions about growing just for the sake of growth apply here in abundance.  If you are free to make choices, I urge you to ensure they make sense in the context/culture/operating philosophies of your business.

On the other hand, if during the turbulence of the past few years, your business has gone somewhat off the rails, it can only get back on track by reverting back to (or reaffirming) sound management practices and rigorous discipline.  Here are some things to consider:

  • If you are the CEO, start with yourself by asking: why do I do this? From my perspective, the answer should be about the work and the success of the organization.  If your answer is personal ambition or monetary objectives, you may not be the right person for the job.
  • Another question to ask is, do you have the right people with the appropriate skills, experience and dedication to the operating philosophy and are they in the positions to do your company some good.  Or do people sit in certain seats due to seniority or organizational inertia?  It is highly unlikely you will recover without having the right people in the right places on board.
  • Make the difficult choices: ensure the cost structure is aligned with the opportunities.  Revisit past decisions, do you like them as much now as you did when they were originally made?  If the answer is no, reverse them.  Exit completely or scale down significantly those units within your business that are not producing up to expectation.  Better a smaller, high quality organization than a large albatross.
  • Organizations take their cue from the top.  Consistently demonstrate a positive outlook and a strong will to win.

It’s been said that the best way to predict the future is by creating it yourself.  That starts with absolute clarity around your core purpose and consistency around your organization’s culture.  Without those two imperatives, you won’t have a foundation.  And a solid base is a must if you are going to change in order to keep pace with or get ahead of the ever shifting realities of your world.  One last bit of advice borrowed from Polonius a character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”