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How to avoid ‘Bah Humbug’

Must be because I called this post ‘Bah humbug” that the system then promptly wiped it as I went to post!  So here goes for a second time – apologies if you came here and found it blank earlier –

It’s that time of year when Christmas decorations start appearing in the malls and shopping centres, in civic buildings and in suburban streets.  It’s easy to have that ‘Bah humbug’ feeling, conceptualised by Charles Dickens in his Scrooge character from A Christmas Carol,  as you realise everything there is to do between now and Christmas.  I think this phenomenon is worse in the Southern Hemisphere where businesses tend to close down over Christmas and New Year, and the schools and universities take their long summer break.  A lot of staff in many organizations are on leave throughout January and all this tends to put huge pressure on getting things done by Christmas.  And that on top of shopping, cooking and arranging family travel and holidays.

However its a good time to also reflect on all you have achieved over the past 12 months.  I was facilitating a strategic thinking and business planning session for a client organization last week, and as we went through all the items from their plan over the past year, I was impressed by how much they had progressed, and the many critical objectives and plans they had actioned.  It’s too easy to get caught up in all the things you have yet to do, and forget to celebrate the many things you have already accomplished.

So this week, as you notice the Christmas Carols playing and the decorations that are going up, rather than thinking ‘Bah humbug’ and remembering your long to-do list, instead reflect on all the things you have accomplished in 2012.  There’s bound to be plenty of them.  And then you can focus on having a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday and New year!

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Categories: Business and Strategy

History Always Repeats…..

My Strategic Management lecturer in College insisted that very little in business, economic and weather cycles is completely unpredictable and businesses ought to be able to plan for most eventualities, no matter how rare.  I have recently been thinking how right he was and how poorly many businesses manage that.  For instance, I have been working with a company that has had to lay off a large number of staff due to a drop in commodity prices internationally.  One of the senior managers was mortified that he had recently employed a number of recruits, leading them to believe that they had a job for many years.  That’s what the company were telling us, he told me.  And yet, when I questioned him about his experiences of the industry, he could cite at least three previous international commodity price drops that had resulted in large-scale layoffs.  So the present issues were in fact, not surprising, to anyone with industry experience.

A similar thing happened five years ago when the area I live in experienced a long dry summer and a resulting drought for a couple of months.  Many farmers were caught without enough feed for their stock and forced to sell at low prices.  There was a call from some for Central Government to offer subsidies for this ‘unpredictable’ event.  And yet, I could remember many similar summers a number of years previously (I’ve lived around this area on and off, most of my life).  Sure enough, a local agricultural paper ran a story afterwards about how farmers had, in past times, grown extra produce over early summer to tide them through the following drought, but most had stopped bothering in recent years as the weather pattern had changed!

So how do experienced managers get caught up in the belief that things have changed so significantly that external forces will not repeat?  Perhaps it’s a human condition that we want to believe good news, or perhaps we just get excited by leadership vision or good times, and forget the past too quickly.  Thinking strategically requires broad consideration of external factors, and past events and trends can help us predict more accurately possible future scenarios.  The people who can remember and relay some of those stories have a valuable role to play.  A bit of research doesn’t hurt either.

A free report showing you how to think strategically is available for you at http://www.strategies-direct.com

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