Donald Sull, a current management thinker, describes a condition that occurs when large corporations are stuck in a rut. Much like cars, it makes no sense for companies to keep spinning their wheels and much more sense to find a way to get traction or to push the car out of the rut. Dr. Sull calls this, “active inertia.”

What do you do when your business is stuck; do you?

  • Have your salespeople call on every lapsed customer to try to revive them?
  • Cut your costs to regain market share, knowing your margins are suffering?
  • Cut salaries or lay off staff?

Looking back on these harsh steps you’ve taken when times got tough, did they really work? Did many customers return; were you able to raise your prices; did you restore salaries or rehire staff? And if so, did such moves really allow you to grow as business conditions improved?

Too often, business owners turn back to historical thinking and solutions to solve current problems. Have you ever felt like pushing the gas pedal down to get your company out of a rut? Specifically, is this what really happens?

  • When things go wrong you drive your firm to double down and accelerate business as usual.
  • Unfortunately accelerating the same patterns, processes and behaviors that worked in the past are unlikely to work going forward. Whether it’s because your environment changed or not, your competition or your pricing or your production or your sales force has.
  • And as you are communicating the necessity to work harder, aren’t you really communicating your own historical experience to your team, hoping they will embrace it and perform consistently?

So how much of this has really worked for you and your business? While you may need to drive your firm to work harder, are you really working smarter?

With all the change we face in today’s economy, are we being stoic when we should be heroic?

By this time, everybody has heard of the great success that Uber has had stealing share from traditional taxicab services. Recently, Yellow Cab introduced their new, copycat product, Yellow X that offers passengers and drivers alike a few features of Uber.

Yellow Cab did so after failing to have Uber banned from the roads by the Taxicab Commission. Instead of taking baby steps to defeat their truly disruptive competitor, what would have happened if Yellow Cab had struck back by solving the problems Uber still faces. The main challenge Uber faces is providing adequate commercial insurance to protect both their drivers and passengers in the event of an accident. This is a problem because Uber drivers drive their own cars and may not have the right kind of insurance. Perhaps Yellow Cab will wise up and outsmart Uber. Perhaps they could create an insurance company providing superior insurance to all their drivers and make it more appealing to drive for Yellow Cab than for Uber. Or perhaps they won’t. Let’s wait and see.

Copyright© Birol Growth Consulting, 2015. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Craig Murphy Flickr (CC BY 2.0)