Strategic management February 10 www. bus- ex. com 9 In the wake of a recession, advice to the business community from governments and analysts is never in short supply. But what if the advice were to come from business leaders themselves- those whose organisations survived the crash and made it through to the upturn? Becky Done reports L eadership methodologist Paul Bridle has conducted extensive research into the business practices of companies who have been successful in recent years- and he continued to do so during the global recession. From over 250 video and audio interviews, as well as written documents from business leaders and successful entrepreneurs, he has identified five key practices as being crucial for leaders when considering how they will move forward in the months to come. The practices are: think global; be a master of your craft; protect the brand; take risks but pay attention to detail; and work with the best. " Businesses after a recession are never the same as they were before," Bridle explains. " Rather than focus on the way they did things in the past, they will have to look to the future and reinvent themselves. recovery Blueprint for
10 www. bus- ex. com February 10 " The five practices mentioned are all about having focus on the important things that will grow their business in a new era. Business leaders will discover that life after the recession will be a new challenge unlike what they are used to. Now is not the time to bury their heads in the sand. It is time to think different, look for new ways to do business and be focused on the right things." On first glance, the five practices may seem simple, but Bridle insists that leaders need to develop the habit of digging a little deeper. " If you say ' think global', people assume this refers to globalisation or geographically, a wider area. Or you might say, ' think wider' and people think you mean thinking outside the box. The feedback I'm getting is, that is important but it encompasses that and more: think wider than you are now; think what alliances you have formed and who you partner with; think what markets you are in now; think about whether you are really in the marketplace that you think you're in- maybe your market has changed, or maybe your market is moving. Be open to thinking of other things you can do and other services that you offer that you have maybe taken for granted in the past." Bridle cites the example of the American car manufacturers to illustrate exactly why businesses need to think beyond their current processes. " If you look at General Motors and Chrysler, they were so tied up in their systems and their processes and their procedures and their production lines- how to speed the production line up, how to make their processes better, how to add an extra gadget to the car, whether to change the colour of the car- but in actual fact, people were wanting cars that were cheaper to run. The price of the car was irrelevant to people, because credit was so easy. Chrysler, General Motors and even Ford to a large degree weren't even looking at that; they were looking at their own existing processes and trying to improve them. " So to think global is to stop thinking about how you have done things traditionally and to ask yourself: what really matters? Where is the real value that you're offering the client, who could you partner with and are you still in the same industry as you were or are you in a slightly different industry?"