You know those wooden maze games we used to have as kids? The ones where a steel ball would roll thru a maze full of holes, and you’d use knobs on the side to avoid having it fall into the holes along the way and ending the game?
I think this children’s game might represent an apt metaphor for business (and government) during our current never-ending recession.
The landscape of everything we deal with seems to be constantly shifting and changing. To avoid falling into the hole on our way forward, we are constantly twisting the knobs to control the little ball on its journey. But often, we over-compensate, and the ball ends up in the hole anyway. We regroup, and head down the maze again, only to make a similar mistake further on and drop into the hole again.
Some businesses are learning along the way. A report today in QSR Magazine states that many restaurant chains have adjusted their operations significantly to deal with current traffic and consumer demands; so much so that they are better prepared to deal with a further downturn if it comes. If it doesn’t, they will reap even better benefits as the economy improves. They have learned to control the ball on its journey.
Part of this reaction is also encapsulated in a Chris Brogan blog earlier this week entitled Salt and Pepper. In it, Brogan posits that sometimes simpler is better. Coming back to basics will produce a better overall result. Companies who understand this have been able to adjust their offerings and internal operations to create their “new normal”, and to survive this downturn.
So what is the message? Wild reactions to crisis will produce equally wild results, but often in the wrong direction. Slow and steady…keep it simple…don’t over-react to outside factors. Be deliberate in keeping the ball on its course and you’ll make it through the maze.