When sales are good, it’s easy to ignore problems in the organization. Are we spending too much on freight? Did our R&D project run far over budget? What about the mistake in marketing that required us to reprint all those materials?
More subtly, systemic and cultural problems such as tolerating dysfunctional behaviors or living with inefficient processes, are often hidden in the shadows when sales are healthy. These internal problems feel less severe because our focus is on growth, servicing customers, and celebrating wins. In that state we don’t feel the pain as acutely.
But isn’t that exactly the best time to hunt down and fix issues? When revenue is healthy, we have mental and emotional bandwidth. There is more time – and perhaps more patience – to get to the root problem. We are less inclined to make decisions based on fear.
When sales are slow, we turn inward to find opportunities for cost savings. Our attention is consumed with worry and we are more apt to make short-sighted or rash decisions based on inadequate information. We are more afraid. What if we had done this hard internal work when sales were good? We would feel confident we already have the right people and the right processes. We would already know which levers to pull to tighten our ship. Instead of feeling reactive and desperate, we can spend our energy forming creative alliances or seeking adjacent opportunities that our competition cannot contemplate, because they are focused on their own internal conflicts.
Darwin taught us it’s the most adaptable creatures that survive. Don’t be fooled when sales are good; tougher times are around the corner and our ability to adapt depends on how thoroughly we understand and tend to our problems now.