Even though it’s been several months, most businesses and industries are still in some level of shock from the shutdown. It may not always feel like it, because within many of these companies, people are still working, maybe differently, maybe remotely, maybe in smaller numbers, but the lights are still on and people are continuing to do what they do. But the fact is many organizations are operating in a sort of limbo, not enough demand to support their past infrastructure, and not enough confidence to invest in the future.
So we sit. And wait. And worry about what the future will bring while revenues shrink and projects stall.
But the news is not all dire. At some point things will rebound. Without question, business will go on. But we have to face the fact that it won’t be the same world. In large and small ways, businesses will operate differently, customer appetite for risk will change, their vision and willingness to invest in the future will change, and most profoundly, their needs and priorities will change. The question is: what will all this change do to your business? How will it affect demand for the specific products and services you provide?
We have seen in virtually every economic downturn that there are leaders who emerge to build even stronger companies. And most of these businesses have something in common: they embrace change, they fear complacency, and they’re quick to refocus their business on the changing needs of the marketplace. This progressive view is what leads to new-found success and without question, it’s what business needs right now.
Business as usual will simply not cut it
What we’ve seen in the last few months amounts to an unprecedented slide in global spending, confidence and investment. Every business – even your business – has been built on a reliable foundation of customers and people and infrastructure that has literally just shifted under your feet. The markets are not going to magically rebound, customer aren’t going to suddenly re-engage as if nothing happened. Prolonged periods of uncertainty have a way of changing not only the confidence of business, but their priorities and needs as well. And that will factor heavily into any rebound that does occur. It’s quite possible that the services, the products, the investments that made your business successful a few short months ago may no longer the priority they once were for your customers. And very likely not at the level that previously supported the scale and scope of your organization. So how do you proceed?
How to become even more relevant in tough times than you were in good times
This is the moment when companies that run toward change will thrive. Companies and leaders who have the wherewithal and ingenuity to adapt to the market will uncover new ways to apply their experience, tools and abilities to solve the real-time needs of customers. In other words, they will be skating to where the puck is going. This is the time for business and leaders to refocus. Not necessarily change what they do, but to take stock in what they are really good at, and to better connect their true strengths as an organization, as a culture of people, with the most pressing challenges and pressures your customers face. In fact, your company’s collective experience and vision may be more valuable today than it was before the downturn.
See real change as a rare opportunity
Fundamentally, business is based on repeatable systems. Companies work best when they know the inputs and can clearly define the outputs. And because of this, most companies are reluctant to change. That general reluctance presents a major business advantage for companies who step forward while others stand still. Those companies willing to refocus their business to meet the emerging needs in the marketplace will grow. Those that sit and wait for the market to return to normal will struggle or disappear. When you stand still long enough, you almost always lose the race. It’s that simple. And only a shift as monumental as the one were facing now can provide you with the opportunity to do things that quite possibly couldn’t be done before: step ahead of bigger companies who are inherently hesitant to change. The brass ring is there, if you’re ready and willing to grab it.
How to refocus now
At Intrinzic, we have a long history helping companies discover and understand their strengths in people, culture, services and products. To bring context and meaning to the value they bring the marketplace. This insight is more critical now than ever, because it gives leaders the ability to see their business as a series of strengths rather than a list of products or services. This is a powerful perspective in the current environment, because it gives leaders an objective view – often for the first time – of the versatility they have in the many ways they can attack the market. And from these core strengths come the tools they need to refocus the best of what they do to align with the emerging challenges in the marketplace, not just executionally, but fundamentally.
Equally important is the way we assess the marketplace needs and connect the strengths of the company to the emerging needs in the market. This is fundamentally who we are and what we do. And right now, this process and approach is more important than ever.
A few simple questions you need to ask yourself as you plan for the months and quarters ahead:
- What are the emerging challenges and priorities of your customers and the marketplace?
- Outside of your products and services, what are the true strengths of your organization and your people? How do you realign these strengths to meet the changes in the market?
- How do you refocus your services and products to be more relevant?
- How do you ensure that your audiences know and recognize the value of your new focus?