Check the Horizon Often


Is There Bad Weather Ahead? 


Every year or so, we hear about climbers or hikers who are caught unexpectedly in storms and suffer accidents or loss of life. In his book Deep Survival, author Laurence Gonzales says one of the highest survival rates in these situations is among children.  "The secret may . . . lie in the fact they do not . . . have sophisticated mental mapping ability . . . . and so do not try to bend the map.  They remap the world they're in".  Their survival depends on their ability to change to fit the new circumstances.


Many managers and leaders focus on the mission or the task at hand, which is essential for great execution.  Those efforts can become meaningless if we miss the fact that bad weather is coming up, so we need to look often for the context provided by the horizon.


One customer start-up we know was in a very competitive environment with high margins.  Their strategy was sound for the environment they were in and they grew accordingly.  But, they were blindsided by events they didn't see coming.


First, an alliance between two competitors was focused on driving margins lower to make the service a commodity. The new strategy then became one of survival for the start-up and a new owner.  We helped them sort out the pieces to maintain the level of service their customers came to expect, helped them sell some of their business assets and protect the people who made them succeed.  They changed and adapted with the new situation.


We make a point of helping customers check the horizon - to regularly ensure they are on course and looking to the horizon to check for both direction and bad weather.


What are your experiences?  What questions do you have for me?

~ Dennis Sergent