Friday, July 3, 2015

The Game Is Changing

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”- George Bernard Shaw

So we have reached the half way mark of 2015. As I speak with clients and candidates I keep getting the same question: “What are you seeing out there?” I think I get it more often when we are in a so-so economic environment. When things are really bad or really good, I don’t get that question as often. Everyone sort of knows what’s going on. For the past couple of years no one is sure what’s going on, so I get that question a lot. When we think things are getting better, they turn for the worse. Just about the time we think it’s all going in the tank, we see it turn the other way
I would say that one word describes how most of us feel about the economy…UNCOMFORTABLE. And more so than normal. I’ve been around a long-time and business is cyclical. There are short-term cycles and long-term cycles. So anyone who runs a business understands the phrase: “This too shall pass”. For the most part things are never as good or as bad as they seem to be at the moment. Every day is a battle, you win some and you lose some. Just showing up and surviving is not a bad thing. And if you’re really good at what you do, with a little luck or help from above, you might just prosper.

But it is never easy. What’s my competition up to? What do the customers think about us? What do our employees think about us? How can we become a better company? Answering those questions today is more challenging than ever. Experience can be a great teacher, but when the game changes your experience can work against you. And when your experience-driven answers to the hard questions turn out to be wrong, then what?

I think this is where we are in 2015. It’s true for the global economy. It certainly seems to be the case when it comes to political, social and environmental issues. And it is definitely where we find ourselves in the transportation/logistics business. What’s happening now is the result of more than just economic cycles and competitive pressures. The game is changing and changing rapidly. Advancements in technology and changing demographics are turning the world upside down. Business models that were highly successful only ten or fifteen years ago are now dinosaurs. 2000 doesn’t seem all that long ago. But, 2015 is a brand new world and if you are running your business a lot like you did in 2000, you are going out of business. You may not know it yet, but you are going out of business.

In the coming weeks, we’ll look closer at the “game-changers” which will determine the winners and the losers of the future. But back to the original question, when asked, “What are you seeing out there?” My answer has become, “It’s a whole different ball game.”

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