Survival Thinking Keeps You in Survival Mode
Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.
podcast version (9:15 min.) in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.
Changes and Evolution
Lots of growth and changes are in play for 2009! The Institute is changing its name to create more differentiation in the market and fit the new programs and studies it will be undertaking.
The Optimized Results web site will be going through changes and revisions to reflect its evolution as well. You'll see the changes taking place throughout January.
We've been listening to and hearing the pain coming from friends and colleagues regarding the economic meltdown and ensuing panic. People and Businesses need triage and first-aid to stay afloat and healthy during these tough times. As we spent the first few decades of our existence doing Business Re-Engineering, Profitability Turnarounds, and Organizational Development, it's only fitting that we bring this skillset back to the forefront.
It's difficult for people to concentrate on personal development when they are wondering if they'll be able to keep the doors open and the lights burning. This becomes Job #1. Profitability is imperative to survival, and survival comes way before self-actualization, so Optimized Results is committing to helping keep businesses rolling and healthy.
New Year's Resolution to get fit? How about your business?
How about both? Give us a call, and let's get you rolling!
Survival Thinking Keeps You
in Survival Mode
(click for podcast version)
Cutting Back to the Stump Kills the Tree
As much as we know about losing our ability to think clearly when we’re in a panic, when it wins over reason, we’re plunged into a non-resourceful state. “Good news doesn’t sell newspapers,” so spin doctors make things out to be worse than they are to stir up fear and sales.
Here’s an example of how they try to manipulate you: when the media reported “2008 holiday shopping numbers were the worst since 1969,” they ignored the actual dollars spent and used a year-over-year growth statistic out of context. In fact Americans spent millions of dollars more than the previous year, but the growth rate slowed down. When people live within their means, that’s what happens. This isn’t reason for panic, but panic sells newspapers.
Unfortunately, panic also rolls through the population like a tsunami, and rational decisions go out the window, just when we need to be thinking more clearly. Panic creates a fight or flight adrenaline response; highly reactive, and not particularly introspective. This is great when you’re facing a Grizzly Bear, but terrible when you’re making budget decisions.
When decisions come from scarcity and fear they’re reactive, non-thinking ones. They inevitably lead to cutting back, getting smaller, doing less, until disappearing altogether. Look at how many organizations (including government) make the reactionary knee-jerk decision to cut spending by cutting jobs. This is like deciding to lose weight immediately by chopping off your own limbs. After all, your leg probably weighs close to 20 pounds, so that’s the fastest way to lose weight, right?
Thinking clearly tells you that’s nuts. Obviously, a lifestyle shift; maybe a little diet and exercise is a far smarter way to lose weight if you don’t want to die. Hacking off limbs inevitably leads to hemorrhaging, and virtually every statistic bears this out in business as well. Easily 85% of the organizations who try to immediately alter their bottom line by letting their staff go rather than fixing systems, fail within a year. Does anyone really believe they hired too many people in the first place for the heck of it? What’s more, the aftermath is crippling. There are too few bodies left to do the work or train anyone, and the survivors have no motivation, figuring they’re next to go.
The secret is Expense-to-Income Ratio, and you can improve this ratio by lowering the river (expenses), raising the bridge (income), or hopefully both. Payroll is only a part of the equation. It may be obvious, easy to see, and thus easy to lop off (like a leg) but that doesn’t equate to unnecessary. There are many more areas to save money, and fixing them keeps an organization sustainable in good times or bad.
First Do No Harm
By giving ourselves time to think, we can pool the knowledge of this potentially expendable staff, and come up with new and better solutions. It’s called Participative Design, and it’s been around for a long time. Fred and Merrelyn Emery, Eric Trist, and William Edwards Demming, each in their own work, asked “who knows better how to streamline their job, than the person doing it every day?” These lessons have ebbed and flowed at different times in our economy, and for a while we were quite fond of Lean Operations and Just-In-Time Supply-Chain Management. Participative Design has had it’s political struggles with the Command-and-Control brand of management, but has always been at the forefront of innovation.
We got a little complacent about Lean Operations, as the “just print more money” economy made it easier to use credit than creativity. Unfortunately, without that credit crutch we seem to return to a panic mode, with non-thinking 1970’s layoff your people reactions. As organizations and governments teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, what is the first thought: layoffs or fixing processes and systems?
Raising income and lowering expenses is obviously what we would call Optimized Results, and we have achieved this goal with every client company; without resorting to layoffs. We have always found at least 20% of their operating budget being siphoned off, not by people’s wages, but by redundant, overly complex, or obsolete processes hiding in the tall grass of their business. We often found this money within the first week of looking for it. The longer we stayed with a project, the more money we brought to the bottom line every time, without sacrificing useful staff. The point being; it’s not difficult at all, and it’s incredibly effective. It does, however require thinking before reacting.
The Spiral Goes Both Ways
The first step in overcoming panic is to breathe. Yes it means not taking action for a moment, and that’s not a bad thing. Action itself is not the solution any more than activity is the same as progress. Looking both ways before crossing the street is perfectly reasonable. Catch yourself looking at that scarcity storm coming your way, and recognize that it doesn’t help you. This is important: even if it’s true, scarcity doesn’t assist your decision-making. Our rational mind has a hard time with this, but being “realistic” is a slippery slope when we’re freaking out. Scarcity makes reality get bleak very quickly.
Abundance or even sufficiency-minded thinking puts you in a far more resourceful state. This is all directed by your internal dialogue; those voices in your head, negotiating what actions you’ll take. Coming from abundance, decisions are about investment, potential, doing more, growth and success. The questions change drastically as well. Rather than first asking “what can we do without?” we first ask ourselves “how can we do this?” This prioritizes the answers to those two questions, to first look at what you want to do, and then how to do it, rather than simply accepting suffering, and determining how much.
Looking at organizations as super-hives of individuals, we can take on operational streamlining and profitability using communication as an all-purpose tool. Rather than hacking off our resources, we can optimize them. Rather than grasping at straws when the waves come in, we can learn to surf. How can I be so confident about this? Because with every organization we’ve had the opportunity to help, we increased that magic ratio, and the bottom line was success.
Turn the Beat Around
Our words have momentum with others, and in our own heads. When we start a downward spiral of what’s missing, what’s lacking, what we haven’t accomplished, and so forth, these concepts and words build on each other and take us down to a very non-resourceful state. We cannot make good decisions from this state of mind.
Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward? Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.
Conscious Communication - the podcast series
Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Interview for Entrepreneur Magazine Radio w/ R. Wolter
Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain
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