After equipping Smokey Bear (“the” is not his middle name) to lead the fight against forest fires for half a century or so, the government finally learned that occasional fires are good for the environment. They clear out deadwood and stir the environmental ingredients into action again. Leave it to Southern California’s own Scott Harris – marketing agency owner, business columnist, college and seminar instructor and jovial contrarian – to bring this metaphor to life for business professionals struggling to push their way out of a lingering recession.
Success breeds mediocrity
Like new growth after a forest fire, companies that have survived the recession “should now be stronger and better managed,” Harris writes in a recent San Fernando Valley Business Journal column. They should also “be smarter for the experience.” One of Harris’ famous warnings is, “Success breeds mediocrity,” by which he means that “it’s easy to be a lazy manager, business owner or employee when things are going well.” In good times, marginal employees are kept on, wasteful practices are winked at and, most dangerously, “difficult decisions” are put off. The economic turmoil that began in 2008, and is lingering still even as some hopeful signs emerge, brought much of this nonsense to a quick, often inglorious end.
Managers of companies that survived the last two years need to critique everything, preferably in a group setting – every policy, practice, procedure and process – and be willing to jettison anything that does not work. “[If we] drift back to our previous ways,” warns Harris, “then we will have wasted a tremendous opportunity.” Harris closes his comments by assuring his readers that he does not advocate any controlled burning of businesses, but does “strongly recommend that we take a moment and learn as much as possible” from the recent recession. Only then, he insists, will American businesses, of all sizes and kinds, “be equipped to make the next few [years] as successful and as profitable as possible.”
Like Apple says, “Think different”
Bottom line? Think different, as Apple used to say in one of its longer-running ad campaigns. In an example from the special effects and post-production facilities that CRE rents to, management often divides into two camps with respect to the high-tech equipment they rely on – renters and buyers, with the latter historically more numerous. Many businesses learned to think differently during the recession, finding that it was actually more cost-effective to rent than own. Consider: Companies with Mac Pro rentals do not have to pay to repair a crashed hard drive. One call and a new computer shows up. Firms using interactive kiosk rentals to capture contact information at conventions turn the kiosks back in, rather than watch them collect dust until the next time they’re needed.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Every purchase, every expense, every procedure, every rule – all of it needs to be evaluated in light of new operating parameters. For want of a better word, let’s borrow one from the environmental movement and call it “Business Sustainability,” as others are already doing. Combining the strongest core elements of green thinking, flexible management, recycling, goal setting, group dynamics, creativity and strategic planning, it can help chart new routes to the future. With a commitment to enlightened management, excellence and success, there’s no telling what the next few years might hold!
CRE supports your business with the best technological tools as well as the expertise to deploy them. Whatever you need to accomplish, our Account Executives are here to help. Send an e-mail, make a call or use the Quick Rental Quote form to let us know what you need. We will make your priority our priority. That’s what we do!