What would you guess is the most talked about element in our environment? Global warming, drought, energy, polar ice caps, perhaps air pollution?
All good guesses – but no. The most talked about element in our environment is the weather. No matter your profession, education, race, or religion, you can’t go through a single day without mentioning something about the weather. “What’s the weather forecast?" or "Did you see the forecast?” or “Oh, it’s going to be a beautiful day" or "It’s going to be cold enough to freeze hell." On and on it goes.
All this talk about the weather got me thinking. Business owners, let’s talk about the weather forecast in your environment. You know, the thing that every single person in your business talks about every single day. The question I have is "what does the weather bring you?"
Are you getting what you want? – CHECK the weather
Is your business making money? – CHECK the weather
Is it hard to find and retain employees? – CHECK the weather
Are you personally fulfilled with your business? – CHECK the weather
Consider the following types of environments and the weather forecast for each:
These environments are green and growing. They embrace risk and respect their employees. The people and processes in these environments are innovative, creative, responsible for their actions, and find ways to be effective. Young, talented, creative people line up to work in these environments. These environments produce products and services that customers want and can’t get enough of. Customers get far more than products and services from these environments – they get an experience that keeps them coming back for more. Apple, Google, Amazon, Zappos, Twitter, and Scheels are all great examples.
These environments are deciding if they want to live or die. They were once a place for growth; however, over time they have lost their way and are not sure how to get back on track. They no longer seek out risk opportunities. They begin to employ people and processes that are rigid and outdated. These environments can be creative and innovative from time to time, unfortunately leadership has no idea how it happens nor how to keep the momentum going. Most likely it was caused by holdovers from a once healthy environment or some new superstar recently hired who has not yet “learned how it should be done”. In any case, these “over achievers” will suffocate in this environment and will be moving on soon. These environments tend to take responsibility for their actions; however, pity parties are starting to show up more than ever. The net result is the effectiveness of the business is beginning to slip and leadership has no idea how to stop the slide. When pride, fear, and doubt prevent leadership from seeking the outside help they so desperately need to survive, their slide continues into the next environment (see below). However, if they can rise above their petty insecurities, they begin to push themselves back into the healthy environment. Did anyone say Netflix? Let me ask you this? How do you feel when you purchase products or services from any of the following: JCPenney, NFL, Campbell’s Soup, Harley-Davidson, Macy’s, Facebook, Subway, or McDonald's? Not as good as you once did I’m guessing.
These environments are dead and decaying. They are afraid of taking any risk what so ever. In fact, these environments punish people for even thinking about risk. Let’s say that if a young superstar employee were to take a risk and fail, that person would be fired on the spot – Guaranteed! The people and processes in these environments are bureaucratic. The business is run by the "old guard" whose business methods were effective 30 years ago so why would they need to change now? They treat their employees poorly with too much work, low wages, bad working conditions, no support or training. They disrespect their customers with piss poor service, high prices, dishonest business practices, out of date facilities, low-quality products and services. They blame others for their choices and love throwing daily pity parties. These environments cannot and will not adapt to a changing world and it is only a matter of time before these businesses close their doors forever. Does Wells Fargo, Sears, Kmart, Blockbuster, Toys R Us, Kodak, Woolworth's, Enron, Bear Stearns, AIG, or Radio Shack ring any bells?
One last question business owners: What’s the weather in your environment? What do your employees talk about every single day? Unlike mother nature – you can change the weather in your environment. Your actions will either influence the environment in a good way or a bad way. You may be living in a healthy environment which requires you to be diligent and stay there. You may be living in a stuck environment which requires you to overcome your personal insecurities and find someone to help you get to a healthy environment. Or, you may be living in a toxic environment which requires you to.... well let's just face facts here folks. The chance that you are going to change your behavior is just about zero which is the same chance your business has of surviving.
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