Article 39: Collaboration – Your Future Depends On It!
We are no longer in the Industrial Age and even though the Information/Technology Age continues to advance we are now experiencing a parallel with our newest phase, Collaboration. As you have read in the paper or watched on television you undoubtedly have noticed that most companies are doing one of four things:
The first group, Going out of Business, tends to be for companies who no longer can find their market, niche or consumer group to support their product/service. They have resigned themselves that the best course of action is to fold, which for some is the right decision.
The second group, Laying Off, believes that they have a sustainable product/service and the philosophy that if they just get rid of excess expenses, employees, the ship will right itself and stay afloat. If all this group does is cut employees in an effort to save money then they are running on the theory that profits only go up when employee costs go down. So the more people they let go the more money they will make, right? Not necessarily because with that mindset if fewer is better than much fewer should be even better until you ultimately end up with no employees. Whether they realize it or not this group is getting ready to join the first group sooner than they expect.
The third group, Merging, has positioned themselves as valuable but just needs a stronger, more solvent, partner to keep them in the game. Ideally they would want to stay independent but know that either there previous business decisions or future cannot be accomplished without becoming absorbed. They are in “Self Preservation” mode. They will give up their individuality so they can live to fight another day. Not a bad strategy but more times than not the acquired company doesn’t realize all they are giving up to remain a player and that is when the internal merging conflict begins, which is another whole set of issues for an entirely different article.
The last group, Collaborative, have a more independent view of things. They may not be at the top of their respective industry but they still they have a vision, understand the market conditions and know that the future of their business will rely in their ability to become collaborative with like minded businesses. Choosing business partners who share a common customer base and who can cross sell each others services. In essence become an extension of each others sale team. This group remains independent with respect to the way they are moving forward with their business but have adopted the collaborative mindset into their business plan.
Take a stand today and make a commitment to get a deeper level of knowledge with respect to the demographics of your customer base. Speak, observe and listen to them so you have a better understanding of the other products/services they use. Then seek out your own collaborating network based on this information.
The fact of the matter is that if you don’t choose collaboration as part of your strategic business plan then you most assuredly will end up in either group 1, 2, or 3, none of which was part of your vision for you or your company when you created it.
Jeffrey A. Mohr – Founder