Your business can turn around.

We’re near the end of 2008. The country and the world are in serious recession. Sales are falling. Foreclosures continue to rise. Thousands of people are losing work. Businesses are failing. Stimulus failed. Bailout failed. The country is stuck in a two-front, stupid war. (A war on terrorism is about as smart as the 30 year old war on drugs)

Still, we continue drive forward by looking in the rear view mirror.

The tactics of the past do not work. In fact, the successful tactics of the past may actually harm your business today. Managers need to completely change their thinking. Actually, they need to start thinking. It won’t work to drag out the play book from the recession of the 80’s and expect any of your old plays to work. The most important thing any business can do right now is produce thinking. Everyone at your business needs to be thinking and those at the top need to be gathering those thoughts.

Won’t Work: Foreign Outsourcing.  It’s expensive. And, if more people lose work here, you’ve got fewer buyers. Made in USA sells.
Won’t Work: Focus on cost-cutting.  You must focus on cash flow, sales, teamwork, creativity. Focus on sales, control costs. You cannot cut your way out.
Won’t Work: Symbolic gestures. Big deal. The CEO of Ford will work for $1 a year. The CEO of GM will drive to Congress to beg for money instead of taking his private jet. Chrysler? God only know what corn they’ll pull. That company has been poorly managed since the 80’s. All three are using old tactics. Do they even need a CEO if all he can do is close plants and offer rebates? You could get a kid with a business degree to run GM. He’d at least understand the market. The stupid symbolic gestures are insulting. You guys are making the public mad. They not only do not want to bail you out, they don’t want your products. That’s serious. When GM says they’ll run out of cash in 2 months if the government doesn’t step in with money, doesn’t that convey they have no plan to sell cars?

Again. The auto companies have piles of inventory. The dealers can’t sell cars. Stupid.

It’s the end of the world. Let’s resign ourselves to total economic collapse. Pack your bags, we’re going to the third world.

If you think that, please quit now. There are talented people losing their jobs and we’re preserving the dummies. “CONservatives” are crying for bailout money. Whimps.

What’s positive? What can be grabbed right now? A lot. First, the U.S. unemployment rate is still below 7%. Interest rates are at near record lows though credit is hard to come by. But that just means that those who have credit are better qualified. Oil has fallen from $120 to less than $50 in 2 months. The country is now seeing the value of alternative energy—except for the “drill baby drill” crowd who are, again, stuck in the past. Lastly, we’re finally getting a competent President.

What to do?

I would have to write a book to give you all the steps possible so I must reduce it to this: Build pipelines for thought. Connect the pipeline to every employee and retired employee of your business. The pipeline should lead to a thought refinery. The brightest, least ego-centric people in your business need to operate the refinery. And you, the CEO, need to have the guts to try new approaches. Take chances. What have you got to lose? The CEO who will do this is worth his weight in gold. Skip the symbolism. Skip the $1 a year routine. Just be reasonable. Do everything possible to foster creativity. Everything. Turn things around and you’ll get the credit.


Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
[email protected]