Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is Your Business A "Fast" Company?

I had an interesting conversation at a cocktail party with an entrepreneur about the importance of being flexible. In crazy economic times he said it is the nimble who survive, while those who cannot change with the times that will have the most trouble. The conversation began around how individuals can adjust to changing situations in employment, work, starting their own business, etc... but it morphed into a philosophical discussion about companies and the power of corporate culture in the success of a business over the long run.

Just as a person has to be flexible and willing to reinvent themselves to deal with changing situations, a company must be able to do the same thing. He believed that a corporation is much more like a human being than most would ever admit. Similar to a person, a business has the following; a collective personality, internal needs, external desires, goals, a hunger to be fed, a strong ego, fear, self-understanding / awareness (and mis-understanding of that awareness!), vanity, and a can become very set in its ways.

He suggested that all business managers and owners look at the traits they admire in their friends (and other associates) and then look and see if their community would view their organization in the same way. Friendly, outgoing, helpful, charitable, intelligent, understanding, funny / playful, empathetic, loyal, giving, open to new ideas, and interested in others were all traits he said he admires in people and companies. I had never looked at it this way.

My friend was obsessed with "the need for speed" in regards to companies (and individuals) reinventing themselves in these trying economic times. All areas of business have to be able to bend with the changing marketplace. Marketing, pricing models, product and service offerings, best practices, customer relationships, sales techniques, advertising, networking, PR, credit/payment terms, HR policies, and any other of the business practices must be able to adjust. There is no time for anyone who says "because we always do it this way" in today's environment.

During the "tech boom" of a decade ago I loved Fast Company Magazine. The concept of a "fast company" was very exciting. Today the magazine's title is just a title, but at the time, it encapsulated everything that made the business world exciting. Those who were "fast" were cutting edge. Seems everyone has slowed down these days.

As I have launched my career as a speaker/author/consultant/publisher I have discovered that it is my ability to be flexible that is bringing me the most success. The advice I got in my cocktail party conversation was to never get so confident in myself that I lose the ability to see that others have unique (and maybe better) ways of doing things. He told me to remember not to "believe my own press", as too many accolades in the news tends to bring a false assurance. That over confidence that people would find as "stuck up" in a person translates to a business.

So now I must look for ways to be "fast" without riding that momentum over a cliff. Geeze, this stuff is not easy! But we all should be thinking about adaptability these days, agreed????

Have A Great Day


Chaitanya Sagar, Excel Expert said...

Hi Singer,
I liked the post you made.And I appreciate your friend's advice as to not to become too confident and lose the ability to see the best in others which you don't have.And coming to need for speed funda, the intensity might vary according to the situation, all the time we expect companies to perform or develop fast, especially in such unfortunate economic conditions.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting. I do not believe people would think of my company the way you describe. So how do I change how people see my business?