October  2008     Edition 42
Innovation - now more than ever

There has been no other time in the last 50 years

when creativity and innovation for our businesses  was more important then in today’s turbulent economy.  Where to cut, where to hunker down, where to invest?  What can you do to contribute to the bottom line of your company, to cut costs, to drive revenue, to improve quality, tactically survive and take advantage of the present conditions and strategically leverage the current situation?.  The answers to all of these questions requires creativity and innovation and of course, Thinking!

The prerequisite to creativity and innovation is clarity of thinking

.  What is your time horizon … a month, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years?   Your strategy will look very different depending upon how long you’re planning for.   Are you looking for a survival plan, status quo, or strategy that will position you to ride the wave of the recovery?   What if the economy gets worse … what does worse look like?  What if it struggles along for 1 year, or 2 or 5?   What are the key indicators in your business that can tell you in advance how the economy will affect your business?   What about your customers?  What are the key indicators that can tell you what they are going to do?  How can you get ahead of a deteriorating economy or a recovering one?

What is your need?

  Given all the things you and your company can do, what do you absolutely, positively, without a doubt, NEED to do … as if your job or company depended upon it … because it might.  Get very clear on what the Needs are and distinguish those from the wants.   For example; almost all companies would say they “Need” to be profitable.  Why? Because in the long run, a company can’t stay in business unless it makes money.  But is this necessary for a short run?   Is profitability a short term Need or just a Want.  Maybe this is the time you need to invest and gain market share as your competitors struggle and their customers look for alternative solutions?

What is your customer’s need?

  Customers may Want many things, but they will absolutely solve their need before their want.  What do your customers really need in order for them to exist in this environment.  What problem of theirs can you solve?  Talk about a customer retention opportunity … solve a customer’s need in crisis and you’ve got a customer forever.

Martin Luther King said

that people will go to great efforts not to have to think.  Now is the time to earn your salary.  Now is the time for the hard stuff, Thinking.  Ask all those critical questions .. the ones that make you think about a real answer, not just a hand waving response.

The Takeaway
-  Thinking … it’s the only thing you and your peers can do to create a set of tactics and strategies not only to survive, but thrive, in the current climate.   If you don’t, you might get lucky, but you can’t make too many mistakes in the business climate that we’re in.  Step number one … Get Clear; clear on the problem, clear on the need, clear on the time horizon, clear on the purpose, clear on the expected results, clear on communication … Get Crystal Clear.  Next Step … Move quickly.

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