It is still important to have a vision and mission as the serve as the deep anchoring mechanism that informs our decisions. Additionally, it is important to balance current plan with responding to signals from the environment that may suggest a change in direction. Some of the direction changes will require significant systemic changes and others will be taking advantage of short term opportunities presented because of the turmoil. I will use Metcalf & Associates as an example – we have an organizational vision and mission that guides all of our decisions. This is the why we are in business and what we hope to create in the world. Our mission is: to develop excellence in leaders by developing their full selves – body, mind, and spirit. During our complex times, these leaders develop innovative, sustainable solutions that serve their teams, organizations, and communities. We are committed to developing long term client relationships working with people who make an impact. We have annual goals and track progress toward these goals. These are what are most subject to change as we watch what is emerging in our world and respond to both opportunities and threats.
How do we track trends?
* Read Futuredition published by Arlington Institute – examines trends in multiple industries
* Watch Arlington Institute TAI presents videos updated periodically by John Peterson, a futurist – looks at the overall economic direction
* Read trends in my industry through industry publications, blogs, and Wall Street Journal
Some of these trends are rather dire. While we do not advocate for a specific position, we do like to look at a best case scenario, a most likely scenario, and a worst case scenario. We use these to inform our thinking. We then put measures in place to monitor which scenario is unfolding so we can respond proactively. Much of what we are trying to do is steer our business from a concrete planning perspective. Additionally, we need to steer the organization emotionally in that we remain balanced and project confidence that we will successfully navigate the transition. It is critical to continually adopt talking points that indicate that we will successfully navigate the change. In addition to looking at scenarios and making changes in goals and structure, we also come across opportunities because of the economic down turn. An example of an organization that took advantage of an opportunity is Lindsay Gallery. They sell outsider and folk art and were invited to participate in a very prestigious art show, the Outsider Art Fair. Conventional wisdom would say that this would be a bad time to participate in new events. Duff Lindsay took this opportunity to make a strategic investment and use this opportunity to build relationships that will likely turn into long term customers. Additionally, part of the health of the overall art business is built on the art show infrastructure. This is an opportunity to support the health of the foundation of the business. This strategic investment will allow the Lindsay Gallery to develop the foundation for greater success during the downturn and the turnaround. This is an example of making a strategic investment in the business. The converse of investing in new opportunities is to decide where the business is spending money that will endanger their long term success. If there are areas that do not support the business either because they can not maintain the cost structure or they impact the ability to respond to opportunities, the business overall will be well served in considering other ways to allocate those resources. This could include asking people to take on different roles as well as re-evaluating capital investments and projects.
Questions for reflection
Do you have a clear mission and vision that you use to guide your daily decisions?
* Do you have clearly defined goals for the year?
* Have you created scenarios for your organization?
* Do you measure key indicators to let you know which scenario is playing out? Do I have any strategic opportunities? Do I have any expenses that do not support long term health of the business?
Maureen Metcalf at Metcalf Associates, Inc
photo credit: telescope – Ny156uk, Question – Alexanderdrachmann