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A Lesson From The GFC- Remind Yourselves, And Brace For Tough Times

zulu-514c894219fc6Look around- what do you see? Yes indeed- it’s the GFC, by stealth. No headlines this time, screaming ‘GFC!!!”  Just every business leader I meet telling me, “We have never seen it tougher than this.”   If you and your business are to survive icy winds ahead, remember this golden rule of survival in tough times. Ignore it at your peril.

Ever see the movie, “Zulu”? The hordes are swarming over the barricades, a straggling group of red coated English soldiers desperately firing at them, just keep them at bay. Bullets are running short. Soldiers rush back to the ammunition hut. “More ammo!!!” they scream. “Fill in the form first,” says the munitions Captain.

Madness. If ever there was a time to change the agreed process, that was it.

In the words of Robbie Deans, when he took over as coach of the Australian Wallabies rugby team, his philosophy was built around one thing alone:

Play What’s In Front Of You

Now- it did not work out too well for Deans (he got fired a couple of weeks ago after a ‘so so’ five years as coach), but his point is magic. Yes- have a plan about what you might do when you get the ball in a certain position. But always look up, check out the situation, and ‘play what’s in front of you.’…respond according to the circumstance.

The Lesson For Business

Times are tough. The pressure on clients is huge. Their thinking is changing fast, as are business models, instructions from offshore are shifting  goalposts, strategies under fire, tension high.

When you meet with senior clients- and usually this will be only ever few weeks- don’t expect the last conversation you had with them still holds true; that they are still focused on what they briefed you on or outlined four weeks ago. Much could have changed.

If you go flying into that meeting driving through your month old agenda, and their mind has shifted elsewhere, your offer will be seen as irrelevant. Even when a month ago you were hot to trot.

How To Fix This Issue

Start every meeting with questions: How are you? What is on your mind? What’s your priority right now? Has anything changed since we last met? What are your Big Rocks- your biggest issues- today?

Probe. Explore. Listen. Learn. And then, as the meeting begins, Play What Is In Front Of You. Try to shape your agenda to be relevant and helpful to addressing the problems and issues that are burning in their minds; the issues of NOW.

Ask yourself as you leave- have we added genuine priority value for the client- value on their most burning issue? Play what’s in front of you. It will keep you relevant as the cold winds accelerate through business

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One Response to A Lesson From The GFC- Remind Yourselves, And Brace For Tough Times

  1. Sing July 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Brilliant post Chris. “Play what’s in front of you”, in other words be flexible, adaptable and move fast. I like to share a book called “who moved my cheese”…I think a good read and only take an hour or so.

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