The 2% Solution

No, this is not an ad for the latest hair growth cream! But it is advice to help curtail all the hair-pulling going on while trying to manage your business during these challenging times. Wherever I travel, I find business leaders struggling with the slow or no growth economies. Most of you have had experiences in dealing with recessions, high growth markets and economies and if you are old enough, you might even remember defeating the inflationary beast! But this stagnation affecting us today is a much different beast because it is far less predictable than the other foes you have navigated successfully through in the past. This "unknown" environment is challenging even the best business minds and sophisticated models. The irony is that we live in a world where there is more information available regarding your customers, your costs and the markets you compete in. Unfortunately, trying to predict what your business is going to do in the next 3 to 6 months is very difficult and 1 and 3 year plans are almost impossible to put together with any high degree of confidence.


I have found that this environment of unpredictable markets is wearing on the leaders I have met with worldwide in last three months. These are not people who are easily fooled or discouraged. They look at each challenge as part of the job but their patience is waning, and rapidly. The interesting part is that their frustration lies with themselves and not with their organizations or people. Ideas and processes that have worked before no longer attain the same level of success they have achieved in the past.


Now it usually takes a while to get these executive warriors to admit that they are frustrated. They shrug their shoulders, look off to the side and say they are fine.  The almost robotic response is, "We will get through this." But after a bit of conversation they ask me, "Are other companies experiencing what we are?” and the answer is yes!  "So I am not the only idiot that hasn't figured out this 2% stuff either?" and the answer to that question is no, you most certainly are not. To all of you asking these questions, the truth is that in fact, you are in very good company. The funny thing is that once the leader surrenders to the realty of the situation and they understand that they themselves are not the problem, well then they become re-energized!! And an energized leader and organization is far more capable of fighting the 2% battle than one mired in some inner focus to find the problem.  I know it sounds pretty silly to you Rambo types out there but think about it. You are a far better leader when you know what you are fighting and right now you are fighting the battle of incrementalism and the frustration that accompanies it.


These are not easy times, but they are certainly defining times. Leaders who are capable of admitting to their frustration are then able to get their heads back into the game.  So the question I pose to you – where is your head at? Is it ready to get back in the game?




My goal for this blog has always been two-fold. First, I have the opportunity to share my insights and years of experience with you, the reader. And second, I myself get to hear your thoughts, opinions, experiences, etc. To make this blog a mutually beneficial experience, I would ask that you take the time to post your comments, your questions and your own war stories from your years in the business. Let’s use this blog to generate dialogue on the issues we’ve all faced in our businesses and work together to come to some great solutions.


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