“Life is a test of endurance, strengths, challenges and patience.”
“We are many, many people and yet we are one. What we do today with our thinking, what we do tomorrow with our thoughts, what we do with our actions and our interactions with people determines the course of the universe itself.
You are not powerless. You are not without power.”
Well. I have written several times about how businesses fear doing what it truly takes to survive <for some good reasons & some bad reasons>. I was reminded of this because I just saw an article that said “GE is broken. Fixing it will be long & difficult.”
My 1st thought?
They will fail to fix it just like Kodak failed to fix itself and … well … there is a long list of companies faced with ‘broken’ and failed to fix itself.
Oddly enough the reason is simple.
They weren’t willing to make the hard choices and were not willing to do what needed to be done.
“Stop discussing how serious the problem is, and get serious about finding an immediate solution to it.”
This permits me to share my favorite business lesson. One from September 14th 1812. The beginning of the lesson? On September 14th 1812, the Russians set fire to Moscow in the face of Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops.
Yup. The governor of Moscow herded out most of the Moscow residents and then burned almost 80% of the city.
Just as a reminder to all non-historians this began the demise of Napoleon’s reign. This action not only permitted Russia to defeat Napoleon by forcing a debilitating retreat back to France, but it also began the demise of the Grand Armee of France. The point of this is, well, how far would you go to solve your business problem?
What happened on this date should make us all think about what we in the business world would sacrifice to win.
Do you imagine there was consensus in this Moscow discussion & decision? <hell no>
In fact. Can you imagine the first person who stood up and said “hey, I have an idea, how about we purposely burn Moscow so they can’t have it?”
<of course all said in Russian, probably after several liters of vodka, to the Czar and probably a couple of Cossack bodyguards … who have some very sharp swords>
Someone had some guts – lots of guts. I hesitate to believe many people in today’s business world have that type of guts.
The tough decisions are … well … tough. Hard choices are … well … hard. And I can guarantee they seem to get even tougher & harder when your survival is at stake.
So would you be willing to burn your burn your business to win in the face of overwhelming odds?
Far too often we try to keep our options open. Straddle the fence as it were. Keep some of what we value in place and do “radical” shit with other parts. 90% of the time that is simply mental masturbation. 90% of the time that is simply suggesting your Frankenstein strategy will help you survive … when what you actually need is a “6 million Dollar Man” strategy.
Sometimes you have to kill the structure to rebuild something better from the ashes.
I say all this because I believe more businesses, whether they believe their survival is at stake or not, should be sitting down and having the hard discussion … what ARE you willing to do to win?
Heck. Maybe most importantly. When you look at your situation do you even recognize how desperate your situation is?
<remember … someone in Russia recognized, and had the balls to say something about, the fact they were about to get their ass kicked>
I mention that because the business landscape is strewn with the wreckage of businesses that did not envision their own demise.
Next. Think about ‘burning the city’ as a solution.
I believe we can all agree that someone “stepped out of the box” with a solution. Ok. They actually stepped ‘into the box’ and said “let’s destroy the box.’
And let’s be clear. I have to imagine neither of these points, as stated above, were popular, well-received nor accepted as a 100% agreement “so what we will do” type of moment.
Anyway. Survival or not, one of the most difficult things a company can do is address their situation in the market. It is just not a fun discussion <usually lots of fingers get pointed in a variation of a circular firing squad>.
In general I believe most companies and businesses are pretty good at assessing their situation in the marketplace. I, for one, have been in a number of those types of meetings where everyone sits down and honestly assesses the difficult position they are in. In other words, you can see the hole you are in or heading into.
I also have been through too many meetings where that same business just isn’t willing to do what it takes to resolve the situation.
Hey. I am not suggesting this is an easy discussion <but at least we don’t have Cossacks with really sharp swords standing around us while we are discussing what to do>.
Are you willing to put 80% of everything you have up in flames to win? I guess it depends on whether you believe the situation merits it. And that is a toughie for sure because we are certainly a country and group of optimists and in general we always believe there is a positive horizon. All that means is we tend to lean back in our expensive chairs in some expensive board room and think, well, c’mon … if you believe there is some positive horizon then burning ‘the city’ isn’t necessary.
But. What if it is necessary? Would you recognize it? Would someone in your group recognize it?
Oh. And if someone did would you listen?
Look. I don’t have the answers. And I am clearly a “burning the city” type of person. I am quite fine with destroying to create <not just destroying for the sake of destroying>.
You may not agree with me, but I would point out burning Moscow sure as shit helped guarantee the survival of Russia.
In the end?
Keep your eyes open. And keep your mind open to solutions. Most of the time we see the danger but, in our optimism, seek creative ways to navigate the danger all the while ignoring the fact danger has no finesse and is a sledgehammer. Ponder. Sometimes the extreme solution, while scary, is the right solution.