Monday, December 15, 2014

Six Steps to Creating a Tropical Paradise Out of a Tropical Storm (PART 1)

If you haven't been paying attention, you may not have noticed that the economic environment, in every capacity, has been shifting from an industrial revolution, to a technology revolution.  Demographic shifts we see worldwide are already starting to bring the industrial revolution back to North America, but in a technology revolution fashion.  Opportunity and momentum are slowing building for amazing prosperity!  The question is, "Are you and your members ready for it?"

For every association and their members, whether individuals or companies, the shift to compete in today's economy is fast, furious, dynamic, and unforgiving.  You no longer make money in spite of yourself, or because you inherited a business from your parents.  Competing today takes strategy, vision, purpose, execution, and the ability to look back and learn lessons, so as to not repeat costly mistakes.

I have had the fortunate pleasure of being around some of the most innovative for-profit business owners in my life.  I've paid close attention the last 10 years because I could see change coming.  Change like we have never seen before, and at a rapid pace.  Over the last 9 years, our association has grown tremendously by paying attention to a set of six business principles that work in any non-profit or for-profit business.  

These six keys to maximizing future success come from dynamic shifts that you will not stop.  These shifts are coming, some are already here, and some we haven't seen the full impact yet. 

As you approach 2015, you have two choices when dealing with these uncontrollable dynamic shifts:
  1. Battle the waves of change and fight against the stream, or
  2. Adjust your sails and sore with the waves.
I would highly recommend anyone reading this post to adopt #2.  If you pursue #1 with the, "We have always been successful doing it that way" attitude, then you run the risk of jeopardizing your organization, brand, and the families they support.

The following are the first three of six key areas that all companies, whether non-profit or for-profit, need to ensure they have a part of their business strategy to maximize their future success and be here in 5 to 10 years.  You can read about the last 3 keys in my next blog post next week:

ONE: Blend Young and Old to Maximize Energy and Wisdom
The United States population, right now, is in the biggest shift in demographic groups in our history.  Whether it's employees, customers, or suppliers, you are dealing with the "OLD" largest generation in history clashing with the "NEW" largest generation in history.  In the middle, you have a generation fighting to be heard.  The challenge is, how do you build a respect for tradition, be open to new ideas, and give a voice to these generations so as to maximize their ability to be cohesive, want to work for you, and want to do business with you?  It is critical that your company invest in resources to help teach each generation and varying personality groups to build trust, care, and respect for differences for one another.  It's amazing what happens when someone begins to understand, "It's not personal, they just have a different way of thinking.  Let's work this out",  as opposed to, "I'm right, your wrong.  It's my way or the highway."  When you have young and old working together in a cohesive blend, your company will begin to see magic happen in value, productivity, and profits.

TWO: Build Your Internal Technical Knowledge and Leadership Upstream
It is proven time and time again that TRAINING pays huge dividends both on the line, and at the top.  No matter what your company sells, quality technical training for your admin and line personnel allows them to work with less errors and greater decision making, which maximizes a customer's experience.  I personally love it when a line staff person can solve my problem intelligently instead of, "let me get my manager."  Empowering your people through effective technical training in every capacity pays off in every way.  With training comes building a set of leaders for your company that people look up to, respect, and have a passion for within your industry and company vision.  Remember, just because you have someone that can do the work of your company with excellence, doesn't mean they know how to lead and manage the people who do that work.  Leading and managing is an entirely different skill set.  I'm never amazed at how many great employees hate their job because their boss has absolutely NO PEOPLE SKILLS.  How did company executives think his/her brash management style was going to work out with employees, customers, and suppliers?  IT DOESN'T.  Your most profitable companies in the future with loyal employees will invest funds into building upper management who lead by example, create heros from their workers, build teams not egos,  and are nice to deal with.  You want a culture where people WANT to work for you, customers WANT to do business with you, and suppliers WANT to give you what you want in terms and service you need to be competitive.

THREE:  Be On The Cutting Edge of Technology
This goes without saying.  Competition is fierce and human capital is every organization's largest expense.  Other factors like Obamacare are adding cost to the system that causes you to have to raise your pricing in order to stay in business.  The question is, "Which of you are going to blink first to raise your prices?"  Many will fear this step for losing customers to competitors who don't raise prices.  Eventually they will go out of business for not charging enough, but can you afford to lose and wait until the customer returns?   Leveraging technology with your company to minimize the human capital needed to grow your business is a must in the future.  This doesn't mean you add robots and let your staff go.  It means, start looking at your business differently.  Where can you add technology to streamline your productivity?  Where can you shift your workers to maximize your customer experience?  Companies who have the perfect blend of high-tech and high-touch will be your most successful companies in the future.

Next week, you will read about keys four through six in Creating a Tropical Paradise Out of a Tropical Storm.

Lastly, I will say this about the need for individuals and organizations to leverage associations.   The #1 place every individual or company needs to be to maximize their resources is a member of their professional society and trade association.  If you choose to do business without being a member of an association, you are choosing to be a lone wolf, go at it alone and leave valuable resources on the table for your competition.  As a member of an association, you can leverage networking, training, social media, benchmarking and research, to give you an inside competitive advantage for pennies on the dollar.  I always say..."There is strong, then there is Association Strong!"

So I ask, does your association and members have these areas on your priority list of action steps for 2015 and beyond?  Remember, the market is unforgiving.  As Jack Welch, former CEO of GE stated, "When the rate of change is greater outside the organization than inside the organization, that is the beginning of the end of the organization."

Stay tuned for next week's post...