A Year of Tough Decisions… Again    3/9/2012 11:10:35 AM

A recent, informal survey of several of our larger clients indicates 2012 will be a year of growth for many companies. When asked how the first quarter sales were looking, one client said, “We’ve reached our first quarter sales goal by the end of January! We never would have predicted that at the beginning of the previous fourth quarter.” Growth is evident in most of the industries we serve, measured by sales volume, inbound leads, and orders taken. If 2012 is already defined as a growth year, then what does this mean for our long-term forecast?

Regardless of whether companies are facing unavoidable growth and opportunity, a critical reality exists. Through the panic, the battle and the heads-down attitudes necessary for survival over the past several years, bad habits have emerged. Our attention turned to the immediate demand, cost cutting decisions, and drastic tactics necessary to keep the doors open. Many of us lost sight of the proactive thinking, planning and improvements we touted in years past. I recall one client saying, “I don’t have time to meet with the management team. We’re in the trenches, dodging the bombs. We don’t have a second to take our eyes off the battle.” Although the reality of their situation was dire, benching critical practices, such as team building among key leaders, will eventually become another bomb to dodge.

“Roaring Out of Recession,” an article in the March 2010 Harvard Business Review mentioned, “The world after is unlikely to resemble the one before it. Their [CEOs’] priority, when they get a moment’s respite, must be to remake their organizations to cope with the ‘new normal.’ But CEOs, like generals in the heat of battle, are so busy tackling short-term priorities that the future is obscured by the fog of war.”

2012 may offer an opportunity to grow; however, the only leader who can truly right the ship is one who understands the need to cleanse the company of the panic attitude and reposition focus on improving the systems, the morale, and the quality of products and service levels for customers. The current decisions are no less significant than the layoffs and cuts of the past. They will make the difference between a brief relief from the storm, and exiting it completely.

Todd L. Reding is the Chief Marketing Officer for Spindustry Interactive; he is a former CEO and holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He can be contacted at treding@spindustry.com.

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