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How's Your Weather

For those of you reading this posting from outside of the New England region you may not be aware that we have had a run poor weather to the degree that some of us are thinking about moving to sunny spots like London and Seattle for an improvement. But, there is a silver lining to the plethora of clouds otherwise ruining our summer vacations. Berries. If blackberries were a disease, the WHO would declare my back yard as an epidemic zone.

At our house berries equate to pies. There have been years where we have had to go on long berry picking expeditions just to get a pie’s worth. This year you can pick about 4 or 5 pies an hour and not have to move more than about 20 feet just on the edge of my lawn. So, we are going to capitalize on our good fortune and bake some pies. If you invite us over for a BBQ don’t expect potato salad because we will be bringing a pie – maybe two. Of course, the cook outs have been problematic as we have been going through some trouble getting the grill lit during the down pours.

Silver Lining

The better question is what is the silver lining you are pursuing right now? One of the great things about a difficult economic cycle is that it can serve as a catalyst for your business to create a change. Some may be dealing with a burning platform type of situation. Revenue has been hit so hard that it is a situation of change or go extinct. However, I am not referring to that sector. My recommendation is for those of you who are doing so-so, if treading water.

One of the things we have learned about organizational change is that people can do very well when they have a mobilizing force to rally them toward a cause. A recession can serve as that force – although we may be looking at a window that is starting to shut. Have you been considering a new product line or market segment? This may be the time. Yes, there are risks, but the psychological environment is good and sometimes it is the organizational culture that gets in the way of change not the market.

If you do decide to take this on, there are a couple of things I recommend. First, make a big deal about the fact that you are making a change in the business direction. Don’t do this under the radar as a test – at least not internally. Once again, the opportunity here is one of mobilization. You want to do the all-hands-on-deck thing. It is a way of also getting folks out of the burrowing down attitude that can come with the doom and gloom they hear on the news.

Second, don’t be too conservative even if the capital is a bit tight. If you can act quickly in turning the ship you may be in a very good position when things turn the corner economically. If you don’t have as much money to invest as you would like, be aggressive in other ways. Maybe push hard on web and e-mail marketing if you can’t expand your sales force. Use contractors for development if you can’t increase your R&D staff. It is a time for creativity

Finally, don’t ignore your existing customers in all this. Invite them in. They may be the best source of your input and feedback. They are changing too. Doing this whole thing collaboratively may be your best path. If nothing else, send some of your front line folks out there to get some suggestions.

Eventually it is going to stop raining here in New England and the water may warm up in August enough to actually swim. I’ve got my boat gassed up and ready to go, when the clouds break. Are you ready for when the money starts flowing again?

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