“Upturn Results in Downturn Times”

Oh, the pain! Oh, the suffering!

Revenue is down. Employees and Customers are skittish. Competition is fierce.

Difficult times separate the Dead, from the Survivors, from the Thrivers. It’s natural selection at work in the business world.

The Dead simply succumb to their lack of ability to deliver the best value to their customers in a way that is sustainable.

The Survivors manage to outlast the circumstances; to live until the next challenge comes along – when they will face threats to their livelihood yet again.

The Thrivers excel through the challenge – the pressure of the circumstances only serve to strengthen their position in the industry and prove their operation is designed to succeed long-term.

Interesting how the world-class organizations seem to consistently “luck out” and emerge with even more of a competitive advantage than before the difficult times began. What is their secret?

Care to take a page from the world-class playbook on how to thrive in these difficult times? Invest in improvement efforts!

At first, this seems counterintuitive; after all, in the midst of sagging sales, most corporate leaders turn to austerity measures and restructuring efforts intended to reduce expenses. Of course, this is a fine strategy if all you want to accomplish is surviving. Unfortunately, with this approach, some don’t even make it that far.

World-class leaders have discovered that optimizing their effectiveness is a full-time, year-round responsibility. They routinely see what most don’t until times get tough. And even then, those at most risk miss the best leverage tool they have: improvement investments.

Here’s what the best of the best do differently: they use the pressure of the challenging environment to focus on strengthening their strategic positions and their tactical execution. While ordinary operations panic and obsess over the numbers and data, extraordinary operations focus on adding value to the customer experience. And by customer, they mean both external customer and internal customer (employees).

Connecting the dots between the company (Values, Vision, Standards), the employees, the customer, and the products/services – with the sole intent of improving the value of the experience, is what generates results. The natural consequences of having the courage to focus on the resources rather than just the costs, is what make the difference.

The Thriver’s approach still considers the price of the investment. As always, their first question is “what are some low or no cost ways to achieve a “wow” for our customers – both external and internal?” It’s amazing to see what innovative solutions an inspired team can come up with. In downturn times, the extra pressure can actually create industry-leading breakthroughs.

The interesting thing is that a Survivor only needs to figure this out and generate that one breakthrough idea to change the game and lead their industry. It’s a nice way to earn the title of Thriver. Almost as nice as sustaining that title.

What can you do to connect the dots and get upturn results in downturn times? End the struggle. Begin the solution. Invest in improving your customers’ (external and internal) experience today!