Friday, January 30, 2009

EEK-ONOMICS !!! A U-Turn in the Downturn

Surviving a Sick Economy

Life promises to surprise. Just a while ago we were polishing our shining economy and patting the bloated belly of our envisaged future. Suddenly the winds of fortune turned out to be gas ! A case of the economy suffering from grave dyspepsia with the indigestible servings of the high and swinging life of over-indulgence. A few pills of stark reality put paid to the gas, and it passed with the awful sound and odour of production and job cuts.

So here we are back to our flat bellied world, only to find that we have purged more than necessary from the system. We have had to let go growth-steam , production- rhythm , momentum of change, motivation to experiment, learning ladders of progress, tenets of teamwork, enrolment of ethics, relationship realty, partnerships and scores of nutrients that are needed to fill the system with sustainable growth and competitive advantage. And all because the enema of deflated vision, along with powerful doses of survival laxatives impartially wash out all elements in the tubes !

Weakened at the knees of stability and glassy-eyed from the spasms of painful “detoxification” of the business blueprint of growth, one can be excused at despairing at the shrunken and emaciated remains of a thriving life. Blown away and blown apart are the lives of thousands and for countless generations onwards this effect will snowball to create of the greatest revolutions of economic life on the planet. What do we do with this sick world ? Well the best thing is to dig in your heels on the slopes of the downturn and force through a U- turn.

Lets look at what we can all do to chip in during these tough times. My guess is that it is very similar to what we do when we are really sick. We get a diagnosis done, medicate as advised, support the recovery process, stay in the groove keeping hope of recovery alive, get back up as soon as one can, allow recovery to complete the journey beyond the sensation of wellness, plant flags of our learning on the way ahead, learn new ways to be more resilient and forecast how to deal with future illnesses resident on the journey, and thus achieve a new fullness of health which promises to be more resilient and immune to the bacteria of breakdown.

Translate this to the times of today, and we can look beyond the “medication” which is in progress, and work out the steps from supporting recovery to future new health. The organization and the individual can work in tandem to produce the armour we require.

Lets see what the Individual can do for himself:
  • Use the time available to get back into shape – health, knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • Enroll your hobbies into your mainstream of life – the future may lie there instead.
  • Recast your lifestyle – critically examine what you need and what are the excesses that can be cut away.
  • Repair and renew the life you have – revisit old practices like walking instead of driving , visiting instead of emailing , using cost effective public systems in transport and communication instead of costly private luxuries , budget-shops instead of glitzy malls with expensive distractions, more meals at home instead of fast food take aways and glamorous dining at starred restaurants, a quiet and enjoyable sip of wine at home with the family at dinner, rather than the wallet shaking pub crawling crave, living with the fashion statements already in your closet rather than the ones in magazines and showroom windows, more polish on the shoe leather instead of new leather- old leather is so much more comfortable, and well… you complete this list !
  • Invest in the future rather than spend for the present, because the future is still available. So educate yourself further with well chosen courses that add value to your future, certify your knowledge and pick up additional skills by examining what your natural talents and abilities can do for you if cultured them beyond passing interest to a level of professional undertaking.
  • Provide yourself with options by creating them from the “meta-markets” of your life-skills. For example, if you are a good teacher, learn to become a professional life-coach, a trainer, a counselor. Or if you sing well, train your voice professionally, if you are knowledgeable and skilled, learn to teach and pass on the baton of success to others, if you like gardening , learn to landscape, if you draw and paint, then start offering your skills to printing and publishing houses, learn and certify yourself in computer animation courses, if you like cars and bikes, learn how to repair them, learn how to design them, if you like playing with colour, learn how to apply it in industrial design and interior decoration and so on.
  • Combine incomes, skills and lives- get back to community living. Try the new-old way of sharing with family or creating sharing families with friends. Let your networking skills create synergistic skill and life networks that live the practice. It will help you build organizations for the future. You may never need to “get-back-to-work” !

What can the organization do to help in these challenging times ?

Well to begin with the organization jumbo-jet can pull full throttle on the twin-engines of good governance and corporate social responsibility. These are those very engines of growth they have touted and won awards for in the “good-times” and must now fly in their passengers ( read employees , channel partners, vendors and stakeholders etc ) in the “bad-times” . Because the passengers are on board since they have already bought their tickets which paid for the fuel and carriage , and cannot be simply jettisoned because the pilot and crew are incompetent to perform to full emergency measures !

This would call for measures such as :

  • Counseling the employees what to expect of the future in this business
  • Increasing the level of in-house expertise through training and development activities in a focused manner to support and sharpen skills directly related to business
  • Stepping up motivation by involving close examination of the hygiene and motivational factors and what strengthening of these would result in better performances.
  • Conducting talent identification processes to identify what talents other than those aligned to business are available and counseling employees how they can use their talents to cope with the future.
  • Creating creative “brain-shops” in the organization to examine extreme and diverse ways of leapfrogging or re-scaling or reframing and reinventing business life cycles.
  • Cutting the flab from business spend across the organization rather than simply cutting salaries and jobs.
  • Investing more in focused operations like R&D and product distribution rather than advertising and promotional gimmickry.
  • Moving from cost-cutting to cost-reduction as a design not a mere measure.

Together the twin clasp of individual and organizational effort to stem the hemorrhaging flow of talent, competence, capability and opportunity can help restore some of the equilibrium to the violent see-sawing of life today.

None of the suggestions offered are all consuming or exhaustive, not do they prescribe fortune filled futures, but they do allow you to dig in your heels and gouge the hell out of the downslide to slow you down enough to craft the U-turn after which the real hard work begins- going back up the hill !

1 comment:

  1. Useful suggestions to handle today's challenges. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!