Let's Face It -- The Economy Sucks.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Saturday, 25th April 2009
Let's face it - The Economy Sucks, but, being in a recession is not something most of us havn't experienced before -

Simply put, there are good times when things are going well and it's easy to make money, and there are bad times, when it's much more difficult to make money.

When this recession started, officially at the end of 2007, we enjoyed an extended period of exceptionally good business conditions. Revenue and profits exceeded most of our expectations. During these times leadership and success often came much easier than it should have. Too much good can often dull the edge necessary to excel in tougher times.
 Leadership is brutally tested by economic challenge. If you aren't prepared, if you have no plan, things can become extremely difficult. Planning carefully prevents knee jerk decisions. The point is this, if you haven't done any planning beyond what you are going to do for lunch -- Now is the time to start. 2009 and 2010 will require utilization of all your leadership skills and planning is a key skill that is practiced by the most effective leaders.
My Focus is Survivng this Recession
Of course you have to look at the short term and get through this economic crisis. But, don't make the mistake of ignoring the development of your long term strategic plan. We have faced recessions before and we have always come out of them stronger than before. We can and will do it again. We can as a country based on our free enterprise system. You need to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves as economic conditions begin to improve. That means you and your team must have a "Vision for the Future". I often call it an "End Game" that becomes the platform for the development of your strategic plan.
Doing business today is just not as easy as it was when we were riding the high wave of the economic boom. You are actually going to have to know what you are doing to get through this economic crisis. That means you have to dust off your visionary skills. Often, these skills take a back seat when our attitude leans more toward survival.
Do You Have a Vision for the Future?
Anyone can have a vision but if you have a "vision without a cause" you are just a dreamer. Let me repeat that --- "A vision without a cause" simply makes you a dreamer. I have known plenty of dreamers in my lifetime whose ship never has and never will come in. Trust me --- "If your ship misses the harbor – it generally isn't the harbors fault."
So when I hear all this crap about "The Secret" and the "Law of Attraction" and all you have to do is visualize success, dream about success and it will come I want to puke. A cause makes you act and it's acting upon your vision that creates success.
Acting on your vision, creating a cause that will drive your company's success is called creating a strategic plan. I know some of you are so involved in fighting fires that you believe there isn't time to develop a strategic plan. In fact, based on today's economic difficulties, you may be spending the majority of your time focusing on your contingency plans. Some of you may be taking the attitude that now is the time to hunker down, cut costs and go into a cautious no risk taking mode and try to survive on a day to day basis. I hope that doesn't describe you because it is a mistake to focus only on the short term even in these most difficult economic times.
If the current economic crisis tells you anything, it should tell you that those who are prepared, those that have developed long term plans are going to be in a much better position to take advantage of the windows of opportunity that will occur as the economy recovers. More importantly, those that have gone through the strategic planning process have a tighter grasp on the core values and character of their company. They are in a much better position to ride out this recession and actually gain market share.
Strategic Planning is a Platform for Change

Strategic planning is a key process that adjusts an organization's direction in response to a changing environment. That includes taking advantage of economic conditions both good and bad. It supports the fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide an organization. A sound strategic plan can help define and focus company efforts to move the company in the right direction, using the best methods.
Show Me the Value
I cannot emphasize enough that the true value of a strategic plan is not in the document itself. It is in the process of creating it, involving many of your employees from the bottom up. This empowers them to be more effective and better-informed leaders, managers and decision makers. Creating a culture that embraces empowerment and working together as a team is probably the most effective way to create success. The more people work together and take ownership of the long term objectives the more unity and teamwork becomes a direct route to success.
Time after time I am told by prior clients that the real value they received from the strategic planning process was in the personal development of the strategy team members and the involvement of the entire company working together as a team in a team atmosphere. The results seemed almost automatic.

You are Handicapped Without Unity, a Common Shared Vision and Ownership of the Plan
Strategic planning creates a team culture that is necessary for success. Working together effectively is not automatic. It takes a specific effort and the development of a culture that is supported by executive management. Shared experiences create unity and value. Knowledge transfer is essential for an organization to grow. Without knowledge transfer and the sharing of the planning experience it is difficult for the group to share the vision and work toward common goals. More importantly, without the strategic planning experience it is much more difficult for employees to function together in such a manner that brings out the best in each other and the entire management team.
Strategic Planning Creates a Dynamic Force
It is not a natural occurrence for employees to stop thinking of each other as competitors and start working as a team. It is much more difficult to accomplish than it sounds. However, it is a natural by-product of the strategic planning process itself. More importantly, it fills a vital need if you want to create or maintain competitive advantage in your business.
The Strategic Planning Value Includes:
1. More direct success in executing action plans and initiatives. Ownership of action items are imperative with timelines and defined desired results allowing the team to tackle more complex projects more efficiently than just individual managers.
2. The strategic planning process allows the development of more creative solutions because it leverages the creativity and innovation of all the strategy team members. When team members bounce ideas off of each other, they arrive at solutions that may never have emerged alone. Seeing things from different perspectives is invaluable when it comes to personal leadership development.
3. Commitment to ideas and plans become an exciting part of the process as employees take ownership of the initiatives. When employees are involved in a project from the start, they are more likely to be committed to the ideals it represents. They also develop the unique ability to pass that excitement, that commitment and that ownership on to the entire organization.
4. Strategic planning utilizing CEO Strategist's proprietary team process that starts with the Owners/CEO End Game and empowers the team to develop the roadmap without being intimidated by the presence of the CEO creates empowerment throughout the group that encompasses focus, process, discipline and accountability for the achievement of the "End Game – Vision for the Future." That ownership not only challenges the team to be creative but it releases discretionary energy throughout the organization.

5. Strategic planning activities motivate your employees to deliver their very best effort on behalf of the company. The fundamental benefit of the planning process includes the development of the following:

  • A framework and a clearly defined direction with unified support
  • A clear vision and purpose owned by all employees
  • Enhanced employee commitment to the firm and its goals
  • A set of priorities that matches company resources
  • A trend analysis that generates the confidence to take risks
  • Accountability built in to a control process
Remember, this economy will recover. You and your company will get through these tough times. You can be prepared and take advantage of the opportunities this economy creates. After all, your competitors are facing the same conditions you are. Maybe the "good times" created a little complacency within their ranks. Take advantage of it. Take advantage of future opportunities by being prepared.
It's never too late to accept the responsibility for your personal leadership development or the development of leadership skills in your subordinates. One of the biggest needs today in the majority of organizations is the unique leadership ability to transform the organization to win in a tough economic environment. Strategic planning is the perfect foundation to recreate your company and leverage your talent, expertise, resources and leadership abilities.
Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. We specialize in leadership development, strategic planning & sales effectiveness. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com.


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