Posted by: dstieglitz | January 23, 2009

Anticipating Change

     Some people feel that change just happens, and there=s little they can do except react. If you=re in that group, I hope this article changes your thinking. Social scientists forecast there will be as much change in the next five years as there has been in the last ten – a Moore=s Law for change. That=s scary because in the last ten years the telcom bubble, the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble, and the credit bubble have all inflated and burst. To stay on top, you must do a lot more than react. To thrive (not just survive) you need to anticipate, embrace, and use change to your advantage.


It’s common for a new president to take office in bad economic times. Bush-2 faced the 2001 recession in his first year. Clinton assumed command as the nation was recovering from the 1990-91 recession. And Reagan began a 12-year Republican run during the deep recession of 1980-82. Today=s crisis gives President Obama a mandate for change, and his stimulus package has ignited an economic frenzy. Forget balanced budgets. Obama promises trillion dollar annual deficits for several years. Since the largest changes will happen in the first two years of his administration, now is the time for you to mobilize to exploit the new opportunities.


The stimulus package will create immediate jobs for ditch diggers to rebuild highways and bridges, and drywallers and electricians to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and homes. Struggling industries such as homebuilding, banking, and autos hope the package will resurrect their sales. And the far-reaching R&D provisions of the package will move America toward energy independence and hopefully produce a positive balance-of-trade. For example, the nuclear industry may receive help not only to construct new power plants, but also to produce components and systems that can be exported to countries with growing energy needs. That=s a lot of opportunities!


To executives who were not in leadership positions during previous economic downturns, today’s crisis may seem like a disaster rather than an opportunity. In the years since the last recession, they have been able to produce growth and profits without breaking a sweat. As a result, they haven=t been pushed to make fundamental changes. But downturns like this test executives’ ability (or lack thereof) to lead their organization through change, rather than merely react to change. It’s an honor for me to help CEOs and their management teams reshape their company=s future in such rapidly changing times.


Today is a whole new ball game for buisness. Laissez-faire government has been replaced by intrusive government. President Reagan told us that government was a problem, not a solution. But times are radically different now. Wall Street, the auto industry, state governments facing rising Medicare costs and declining revenues, and homeowners with underwater mortgages are lining-up for hand outs from the Federal government. Businesses that were able in the past to ignore the Federal government can=t anymore. No matter what your business, align your strategy with what the Federal government is planning to stimulate. 

     Many companies hope to survive the economic crisis by closing offices, laying-off employees, and reducing investments and benefits. I’m advising clients to head in a different direction.  Americans are screaming for change, and great change always produces great opportunity. Citizens complain about shifts in the job market, traffic jams, high energy costs, lack of health care, endangered water and food supplies, and rising crime. Each of those complaints represents a whole set of business opportunities. And with government priming the economic pump, they will begin gushing revenue and profits for businesses in many industries.  Are you anticipating, embracing and using such changes to expand your success?

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