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Is “Return to Business as Usual” the right goal?

May 4, 2020
Ryan Richardson

Longtime professional hockey player, coach, and broadcaster Barry Melrose said skaters should work their hardest when on the power play and it’s the defense that can sit back and settle in. While hardly anyone would claim to be on a “power play” right now, the analogy is closer than may first be obvious. 

During a power play, both teams have obstacles to overcome. One team is physically short-handed while the other is trying to beat the odds. This past hockey season, teams on the power play scored only about 20% of the time and, in fact, were scored against about 3% of time.

While both teams have disadvantages, their desired outcomes are very different. One team aims to get back to where things were, business as usual, so to speak. The other team – the one Barry Melrose said should work their hardest – aims to come away with a goal.

During these unprecedented times, many leaders of organizations say they just want to get back to business as usual, with some saying they just want to get back to work, period. That’s understandable. But it’s also the mindset of being on defense, and means the probability of coming out ahead is drastically lower.

Organizations often find themselves focusing their sights inward and losing a view of what is taking place outside of their organization. This tends to happen when organizations are busy, and doing the work takes priority over other tasks, and/or when organizations get bogged down by the business of being in business and operational functions take large chunks of the day.

In hockey, a red light signifies a goal has been scored, and by using the R-E-D technique, organizations can use this time to increase their chances of coming out even stronger.

R-E-D focuses on three actions that tend to get overlooked by many organizations: Research, Evaluate and Develop.

Research

When was the last time you took a thorough look at your industry? And, for those in B2B, how about your clients’ industries? 

Many organizations say it’s hard to find the time to invest into staying up to date on: 

  • the state of their, and their clients’, industries
  • current trends
  • developments in technology
  • business processes
  • pricing models and compensation levels

Good intentions often become low priorities and, eventually, afterthoughts. If you can’t confidently say that you are an expert on what’s happening in these industries, now is the time to catch up. 

Evaluate

After completing the research phase, do this classic exercise: imagine a competitor to your business that, if it existed, would keep you up at night. What does that organization look like? How does it operate? How is it structured and how are its processes superior? What capabilities make it a threat and how does technology factor in? What kind of employees do they have, how do they attract them, and how do they keep them? 

Now, examine each part of your organization and evaluate it against this imagined, existential, threat-posing competitor. 

Develop

Now that you’ve done research and feel confident as an expert on your industry, and have evaluated all parts of your organization against an imagined top-performing competitor, it’s time to take action. 

Develop the framework, structures, processes, tool box, and team to align your organization, as closely as possible, to outperform the imagined competitor. 

Most everyone has obstacles right now. The separator is mindset. Is your mindset to sit back, settle in, and have your aim focused on getting back to business as usual? Or, is it to work your hardest and focus your aim on coming out ahead?

Ryan Richardson helps and empowers organizations to become more effective, efficient, and accountable. Though never playing, coaching, or broadcasting hockey at a high-level, he did have the hair for it.

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