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What Are Executives Learning from the Global Economy?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Alan Weiss, Ph.D., president of the Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC), has released the results of a global canvass of members as to what their clients are learning about working and competing on a global basis.

"This still is not second nature or standard operating procedure," notes Weiss.

Gary W. Patterson, president of FiscalDoctor in Boston, MA provided these observations. Simply put, cash is king again when it comes to operating a healthy business. Companies that fail usually suffer from cash shortages.

Ask yourself these critical questions to avoid a cash flow crunch, or worse, an endangered company.

  1. What is our reasonable cash flow reserve?
  2. What items are (almost) as good as cash?
  3. How can you make better cash flow projections?
  4. How do cash flow projections work with our corporate goals?

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and leadership coach and president of Working Resources, a strategic talent management firm in San Francisco, California. He specializes in executive coaching for developing emotionally intelligent leaders and lawyers. He offers a few insights:

The marketplace as well as the workplace is increasingly multicultural and diverse. Never before have people been required to work together with colleagues and customers from so many different countries and worldviews.

As opportunities for global expansion increase, so does the trend toward more diversity in the workplace. Successful companies are recruiting professionals with different backgrounds, cultures, styles and motivations. Yet this great resource presents increased possibilities for misunderstanding and cultural blunders.

It is obvious that organizations will need to expand the capacity for people to handle the challenges of working with other cultures if they are to participate successfully. Those companies that continue to struggle with domestic diversity will find themselves even more challenged.

Leaders must be flexible and be able to adapt to this diverse workforce and global consumers. This requires an understanding of the historical, political and economic references of people. Leaders must understand differences in worldviews, communication styles, ethics and etiquette of the people they deal with, both internally and externally.

Lisa Hamaker is principal of Kaliday marketing in Bolton, MA. She specializes in helping companies create useful strategic frameworks and implement them effectively.

"The current global economy is teaching my clients not to take anything for granted, and that strategic planning and strategic frameworks are very different things. By definition a plan is a specific list of activities. So if the economy throws you a curve with a plan, it takes significant effort to re-trench, re-plan and make the most appropriate movement forward. By its very nature a framework provides an open infrastructure for more varied actions and insights, while shepharding the organization toward their goals. When an organization has the freedom to look at change opportunistically, it takes on a positive connotation. A functional strategic framework helps an organization take advantage of opportunities more quickly and effectively, and therefore garner more success from them."

Bob Moore, CMC, MCC is a consultant to management, top talent coach and president of the Top Talent Institute with offices in Tampa, FL and Raleigh, NC. He recently hosted a business "Thought Leader" session and got the following responses when he asked the group what they are learning from the current global economic situation.

Most agreed there are many more factors than ever before over which they have little or no direct control and entrepreneurial organizations and small businesses have an advantage over larger companies because they can be more agile and responsive. Thus, they are more likely to be on the leading edge of the "Recovery."

The group believes a "Positive Outlook" is required to find the opportunities that always are present during economic shifts. This makes it more important than ever to create alliances with like minded business leaders to fully develop the opportunities they discover since they may be bigger than a single firm can handle.

Moore found many business leaders are focusing more attention Employee/Talent Development particularly since many are experiencing a shrinking pool of potentially top talent. These leaders believe only the most talented employees can produce the innovation required to succeed in this economy.

Alan Fortier of Fortier & Associates observes that core commodities prices are being driven by global supply/demand and faster info flows at levels with no historical precedent. Companies must address the resulting, greater cost volatility with business models that provide more flexible pricing, capacity and cost inputs. Annual plans and year end price adjustments, which were always sub-optimal, are now grossly inadequate, and must be replaced by more agile processes.

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