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Leadership Thought #235 – Sometimes A Business Needs to Fish in Another Pond…

October 27, 2011

Free Woman Doing Fishing Stock Photo

Leading a business requires your constant attention.  Past success is not a guarantee of future results.  Just like when you are fishing, the opportunities often change due to the external environment. Some fishing holes run dry.

One of a leader’s primary jobs is to constantly pay attention to the marketplace and make changes as needed.  Markets are dynamic not static and as a result are constantly reinventing themselves.  What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow.  Especially in the current economic climate, you need to keep your options open and be flexible and opportunistic as needed. Sometimes you need to be willing to fish in another pond, try another rod and/or use different bait.

Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I have seen far too many businesses that get stuck in the same patterns and believe the answer is simply better execution or cost cutting not a different strategy/approach.  I recommend you consider the following alternatives to your current business thinking:

  • Think outside of the box and don’t get stuck with a fixed definition of your customer base;
  • Develop products/services centered around the changing needs of your customers not based on your own internal capacity or leadership preference;
  • Look to expand not limit, your geographic market – don’t be afraid to think bigger;
  • Combine your efforts with other companies who have complementary capabilities to expand the collective value you bring to the marketplace – past competitors may become useful partners;
  • Reinvent your product/service delivery model to make it more profitable and/or get rid of businesses that are losing you money – sometimes you need to first contract to get bigger;
  • Get more creative and aggressive with your marketing efforts and abandon or minimize investments in past tactics that aren’t achieving the desired results;
  • Engage your employees in an on-going two-way dialogue on what the company could be doing better or differently and then listen to them and act accordingly;
  • Look at other companies you respect in completely different industries or markets and research what they are doing well.  Then assess if you can apply these strategies/tactics to your own situation.

Now, more than ever, business is a contact sport.  You can’t afford to be slow to act and change what isn’t working.  The market will quickly identify your vulnerabilities and others will take advantage of them.  Jack Welch was fond of saying that “…business strategy needs to be dynamic and anticipatory.”  Leaders need to be less in love with their own opinions and gut, and more focused on making proactive decisions based on market realities.