Tuesday, December 16, 2008
There are losers and winners in every downturn. While retail growth is at a 15 year low, insolvency accountants are doing a roaring trade.
But, I believe that the current economic climate presents an opportunity for any business. It represents a dramatic shift in context. As such, it forces people to reframe their thinking.
The downturn, in other words, is forcing businesses to think differently. They're grappling with issues like, how do we get through this, how long is it going to last, what do we need to change to be competitive in this new situation, how do we manage our resources.
Some companies are still looking at short term goals - firing people and keeping their heads below the parapets. Others are thinking more creatively, in terms of long term goals and how they will evolve their company for the future. These are the ones who will benefit from the shifting context and transform their businesses in the medium to long term.
A large part of creative thinking is about changing the context in order to stimulate the imagination. Most of the time we have to do this artificially through thought experiments, for example, imagining alternative or extreme scenarios and how our brand would behave under those conditions. Thanks to the downturn, the extreme scenario is all too real. It's forcing accelerated change in thinking and in business practices. In the longer term, it may be just what stagnating businesses need.