The Art of Doing

advice for bitersI’ve been looking at a lot of businesses lately and watching with interest as they adapt (or don’t) to today’s business world.

Some are managing the transfer (Coca Cola, Ford, Four Seasons), while others seem to be struggling (BP, Nissan, Nestle). And these are the big boys that should be able to provide the budgets to create a successful strategy – yet as BP, Nissan and Nestle show, that’s not always the case.

So why are companies still struggling to adapt?

Having both worked at and for large corporations, the answer doesn’t always boil down to poor decision-making by the strategy team; it can have more to do with immovability and a “not quite ready yet” mindset from the decision-makers at the top.

Which is why more companies need to start learning the Art of Doing.

The Art of Doing

One thing that’s clear with any company (or at least any one that wants to be successful and stay ahead of the game) is the want for change. This could be a change in the way you do business; a change in the people that run things; a change in corporate culture; or a myriad of other compartments.

But there’s a big difference between want and making happen.

Both Ford and Nissan wanted to run a successful social media campaign for their latest products; but only Ford really made it happen. Nissan had great early success, for sure, but early success doesn’t guarantee long-term returns – something the negative reaction to the second half of Nissan’s Cube campaign shows only too well.

So how do you switch from want to do?

  • Make sure your ship is watertight. When you plan something, there are always going to be uncertainties. How you plan for these uncertainties defines your success. Being fluid enough to react to ad-hoc needs is key.
  • Question interventions. The businesses that are making the successful switch from existing to future are doing so because they have teams that believe in what they’re trying to do. Often those in more expensive suits will question your wisdom; make sure you have answers and questions of your own.
  • Finite or infinite. A great plan knows that to achieve and measure success, you have to have timelines and guide points. You need to know where you need to be by a certain time, and if you’re not, do you cut the cord or take one last stab at the target?

Get Motion Sickness

In late 2008, the Big Three motor companies – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – saw their fortunes dip massively as the U.S. economy took a nosedive. As the recession bit, it looked like all three were seriously in danger of going out of business.

It was only a huge financial bail-out that saw GM and Chrysler survive. But Ford didn’t ask for a bail-out; instead, it got motion sickness.

Believing in the company’s new products and the ability to distance itself from the other two strugglers, Ford’s approach to changing things up inside and outside (the strong use of social media and consumer marketers) saw them enjoy a massive turnaround in fortune.

Make motion sickness happen for you:

  • Ignore the safety harness and take the direction you need to take, no matter how sharp the turn.
  • Use the accelerator more. Slow and steady might win the race but competition won’t always wait for you to come in.
  • Ride the dirt track. Just because the same road has always worked before doesn’t mean it always will. Get off the tarmac and onto the mud if you need to.

Every company wants to do. Only the good ones know the art of doing, though. Where does yours fall?

Creative Commons License photo credit: otherthings

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