The cycle of change

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istock sad business person on stairsBoing, boing.

Business has its ups and downs. Anyone who has managed to keep things going for a few decades — heck, a few years — knows that fact. Times are good. Times are hard. The cycle repeats. And those with some planning, passion, (and perhaps some luck) get through the “downs” for the next ride up.

So, I’ll dare to express some thoughts here that may set off some alarm bells, but reflect the hard-nosed experience and the practical realities of business.

Deadwood kills. Wasteful employees and overhead costs have a tendency to crowd out the good stuff. So, you need to know when to pull the plug, and do it quickly, when you need to do it.

Great ideas have their time. Most businesses are “founded” on great ideas. But only a few can successfully constantly innovate and generate new great ideas. Others settle into maturity — knowing the systems, processes and models that allow their formerly “great idea” to still be viable, even though it may be past its prime. (Recognizing, as well, that technological changes and other circumstances can still blow the steady-state business into oblivion.)

Simplicity is wonderful but, no matter how hard we try, we will ultimately make things more complex (until we are forced to simplify again.) Sometimes we need to remember what really counts, and then focus on these priorities more than any other.

Systems and processes are important. Know them. Don’t let them become bureaucratic messes — but equally, all businesses should have a disaster plan; and a strategy for avoiding the worst problems that arise.  It is easier to survive a storm when we can see ahead, know which course corrections to make, and how and when to (if necessary) put the engines into reverse.

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