Motion is Lotion

The problem isn’t an inability to take action but an inability to take the RIGHT action at the right time for the right reason. Countless reasons exist for the problem…ones we encounter most frequently lately range from ego-managerial stubbornness to narcissitic incompetence – it’s the org’s inertia, good and bad.  Active inertia is an organization’s tendency to follow established patterns of behavior. That’s more of a Management Weaselspeak term, however in its context, it’s fairly accurate. We use the term scar tissue where most of you understand it’s the natural response to dramatic shifts in a business climate or environments. This is where employee population tends to get stuck in the repetitive modes of thinking and working where success came from in the past. it also rolls uphill where leaders and managers tend to apply and accelerate the ‘tried-and-true’ activities as if they’re guaranteed forumlas. Proven methods are only proven when they’ve succeed in variant iterations across a broad spectrum of circumstances and environmental forces.

One of the most common business phenomena is also one of the most perplexing: when successful companies face big changes in their environment, they often fail to respond effectively.

Reaction or Responding? These issues commonly arise from where leaders are recovering from a severe setback.  Instead of an appropriate response – strategically calculated – they tend to stall, becoming stuck versus needing to leverage the moment considering the type of organization they must evolve towards moving forward. An Elegant Leader understands the need to ensure everyone at all levels learns the right lessons, ground themselves in the organization’s core values, explores how they can innovate to bring unique value in the current market and determine what they need to stop doing to protect against the same setbacks in the future (part of the Triple A Framework:  to stop, start, do more and do less of an activity, habit or behavior). Accelerating this evolution ensures the organization can thrive again to get back on top of the ‘pre-injury’ performance.

The large home improvement retail giants – Lowe’s and Home Depot – are classic examples of how good companies respond ineffectively. At their peak, Lowe’s and Home Depot offered the retail consumer products and services in one building for residential and commercial consumers – one stop shopping experience. Lowe’s is built for the female demographic with a clean, neat appearance and more fashion-forward lifestyle themes throughout the store. While Depot is geared more towards a heavy- DIY and contractor-driven consumer with their a rough, down’n dirty model.

While they both say they are focused on the opposite of their core customer, the facts don’t lie. They BOTH have evolved with newer, better, faster, cheaper, deeper products and services, and all the while delivering a old worn-out, ill-fitting model and processes that don’t resonate with today’s new consumer with highly-disposable dollars. The scar tissue these big box retailers cling to, in addition to their size and scale, consistently lose share of wallet to Amazon, IKEA, Overstock, Wayfair and countless other providers in the now highly-fragmented retail home improvement market.

What was once a one-stop shop isn’t the drawing card anymore it onces was. It’s no longer the ticket to play or stay. The paralysis to stay and play outweighs the perceived risk to move the organizations forward beyond status quo. The fresh thinking that led to a company’s initial success is often replaced by a rigid devotion to the status quo:

Because it’s worked before

Because you don’t fix what’s broken.

How would you know when you’re nose deaf to your own situation – because you’re too close to it! Strategic frames and mindsets are the assumptions determining how managers view their business. they become blinders. The processes that were once ‘cutting-edge, state-of-the-art’ become routine as ‘this is how we’ve done it.’ The relationships formed internally and externally no longer bond one another as a community. They now become handcuffs bonding them to a past that’s no longer relevant. It actually reverts back to a command-and-control. The set of shared values and beliefs that formed the culture early on have evolved into a climate of copmpliance, versus…

Be respectful of the corporate heritage, but not beholden to it.

IBM, Kodak, McDonald’s and Firestone immediately come to mind. Have they seen the error of their ways? Yes, and no. Some still struggle with letting go of what’s held them captive to forge ahead into a more nebulous and unpredictable future…and some are no longer around.  So what’s the plan, the secret ingredient if there is one?

Whatever direction you choose to move forward towards, a critical point to remember is to be respectful of the corporate heritage but not beholden to it. Adapt to a new competitive environment through a series of carefully staged changes, avoiding the need for a revolution or a transformation. It’s an (r)evolution – a natural outgrowth from where you are today to where you know you must go tomorrow. If you’re looking to move forward from the current state your business is in and have the energy to move it forward and see it through, then you have what it takes to sustain success in a new chapter. We have several entry points to guide your organization to new success. I recommend reviewing our Leadership Solutions. If you’d like to accelerate the process, we offer a quick start program here. You’re always welcome to schedule time to discuss you unique situation.

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