Panelists explored how to pivot and navigate in a sensitive business climate. They looked at how you can determine your next move, what to look at in your business, and how to determine what has potential and what to spend your time and limited resources on to get your business moving forward.
Realigning and Staying Focused
“One thing I know for certain is that change is constant,” began Alan Wallner. “Change is always happening and it will always be that way. So I figure why be resistant, let’s embrace it, let’s leverage it to our advantage. But the funny thing is that’s easier said than done. We’ve all had good intentions and we get everything set up. We even start taking action. Then something doesn’t quite work out. It doesn’t work out the way we wanted it to, or maybe we didn’t hit that crucial number or someone gives us feedback that hits us at our core. And then then all that head chatter begins. And so at this first question, when you hit your low, what steps or process or methods or even routines do you leverage to realign yourself to get in the right mindset that allows you to stay focused and lower your stress to have keep your business moving forward?”
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘Change is inevitable. Growth is optional,’ which basically says, what is our reaction to change?” said Mark Coronna. “Every business is on a journey. And it’s a long-term race for most executives and we have to think about business as a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself. Think about the bigger objective, the long-term objective. . . . And of course every journey starts with a single step. So do something constructive that you can create a success around, and then do the next one, and then do the next one. Think backwards, think forwards. That’s my view of how you dig yourself out of the doldrums.”
Scott Plum added, “I believe we have to assess what’s changed and what hasn’t changed. Too often we focus on what we don’t have instead of looking at what we do have. And one thing that’s changed is the application of the products and the services, but the products and services have not. . . . So I think we need to really, first of all, concentrate on what we have versus what we don’t have.”
“Every change involves doing something different and anytime you do something different, there’s a certain amount of risk associated with it,” said Rajiv Tandon. “. . . I learned one thing about entrepreneurs, that the term “failure” has a very different meaning in their heads. The definition of failure is different because they know fully well that every success is always on a base of some failures. So failure is not something to be afraid of, but really as on the path. . . . I think in the era of rapid change, the ability to have a different definition of failure in your head is a very important trait that we must all embrace.”
A Successful Attitude
The next question to the panelists was about attitude – do you need a tough attitude to succeed?
“We want to build a return to a culture in a marketplace where we can have the human interaction and the individual freedom,” said Scott. “So toughening up takes away the accountability and the obligation off of our leaders and our country, our state; our city needs leadership. . . . So by toughening up, I think we’re taking away the accountability for them to lead and to be able to manage the needs of the people and the citizens to be able to give us our individual freedoms and the human interaction, which we all need.”
“Anytime you get comfortable with status quo, it’s going to hurt you,” said Rajiv. “Yes, we understand that this crisis is unusual, but in 2008 more successful companies came out of it because many of the established companies died. Without many of them dying, what chance does it have for the new companies to arrive? It’s the forest fire destroys it so that new plantings can come. I think if you are willing to take what a universe offers you as a given and then respond to it with your creativity if you can manage it, that’s your ticket to ride.”
“Don’t kid yourself. Just be honest and be honest with everybody” added Mark. “The people you’re working with are all adults. They can take bad news as well as good. And just be honest, but have a plan, even if it’s a simple plan.”
Defining the Next Move
The discussion then moved to processes or methodologies businesses can use to navigate through this current climate, to define and prioritize their next move.
“The important thing is that you recognize that the new normal that is going to be born is going to be different than the 2019 normal,” said Rajiv. “You just have it as a given. And if you can then look at what the new normal is going to look like and how do I prosper and how do I make an impact in the new normal, you’ll get the ideas you’ll get, it’s not rocket science. If you are given what the world looks like, you can plan around that. We are very good at that. The only difference is you are not a hundred percent sure what the new normal would look like. So you have to make some guesses, plan accordingly and be prepared that it may come slightly different than what you have, but reality is, trends don’t happen during a crisis.”
“When things are changing and disruptive, I think we need to first start with what is the new goal, and to be able to define what is the first step, be creative on establishing a process, figuring out what steps we need to take, execute on the plan,” said Scott. “And we need to also be creative on other threats. I think something that we need to always keep in mind is we should never attach our joy, our being, or our confidence to anything we could lose. And when we look at the change in the marketplace right now, where are we getting our joy? Where are we getting our confidence? Where are we getting our sense of being?”
“I like that because people often think of their brand as their logos,” said Alan, “but it’s actually the perception that people have of you as a result of the experiences you create for them. So if you were working with people in a physical mode, one on one, or in person, that has to change; you have to reinvent these experiences that you’re creating for people.”
Replacing the Physical Experience
Toward the end of the discussion, an attendee asked how a business can replace the physical experience.
“You better figure it out how to have better virtual experiences,” answered Mark. “Go deeper, spend more time, figure out what people really want, what’s important to them and deliver on that. Some organizations don’t spend a lot of time on voice of customer. I just did a voice of customer survey and what the business thought was important is not what came up on the attributes in that survey. That’s pretty typical. Sometimes you get the list right but the order wrong. So I think it’s time to go deep and say, well, what do you really want out of a nonphysical interaction and see what you could do to deliver on that.”
“Today, services are a bigger proportion of the business world then products are, and services by definition, there’s nothing to feel and touch in a sense,” added Rajiv. “So how do you differentiate a service? How do you give an impact if you’re in the service business? I think if you learn, if you watch services and how they position themselves, how they differentiate themselves, you can get a lot of clues on how to do things without a physical product being there.”
“I think what’s most important is the experience; in creating experiences where people feel appreciated, they feel like they still matter,” said Scott. I think it’s probably our human nature to always seek vindication and validation. And I’ve heard a couple times about a dentist that would call a patient after they had some work done. And say, I’m calling to see how you’re feeling. And the patient is shocked that the doctor would call after a procedure to find out how they’re doing. … And that whole experience about the dentist caring about the patient is just such a big impact because stuff like that doesn’t happen very frequently. So when you look at how can you make an impact on an experience with somebody, it’s just as simple as picking up the phone and talking to them, sending them an email, or sending them a handwritten note on something that you appreciated and you thought of them.”
It’s a Bold New World!
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