Saturday, December 29, 2012

See The Train Coming Before It Runs You Over

Both in life and in business, it is really important to see the train coming before it runs you over.   Instead, people are often shocked when bad things happen to them when in fact, they failed to see the indicators that were staring them in the face all along.  This is particularly true when an employee is terminated and it is a big surprise to the employee. 

This CEO Blogger always plans for the worst case scenario and if the best case scenario happens, we are just that much further ahead.   That strategy has served me well my entire working life.  That is really true related to budgeting.   I just do not allow pie in the sky budgeting because I know more often than not unrealistic numbers never come to fruition.   

But it is not just about numbers.   It is important to see threats that could negatively impact a company long before they occur.  These could include threats coming from competition, government, new laws, outdated business practices, poor performers, etc.  The same thing is true related to personal life; just the threats are different.  A problem employee must be dealt with quickly rather than allowed to harm the company.   It makes no sense to retain clients that are not profitable, no matter how big the name.  Security issues must be anticipated and dealt with to prevent a potential tragedy.   There must be thorough business continuity planning in place in the event of a natural disaster, or civil strife that could shut down a business, or local office.    This is all about thinking ahead to anticipate the What If 's to prevent bad things from happening to good people and good companies. 

Years ago, when we off shored critical accounting functions to India, I asked about Disaster Recovery Planning.   Of course, our partner in India had very good redundancy in place to deal with normal events; but then I asked about the Nuke issue.   There was a puzzled look on the faces of their management.   I went on to say that India and Pakistan both have nuclear weapons pointed at each other.   Since Pakistan is so unstable and often hostile to India, I asked what would happen if there was a nuclear exchange.  

Since our employees in India would likely be dead, or very seriously injured, including those that could provide any redundancy,  we put mechanisms in place to bring those functions back to the United States quickly, if this horrible event ever occurred.   Since this is a critical company function, though we would grieve the loss of our staff members, we just could not chance losing this service capability.   This is an example of seeing the train coming, even when some event seems far fetched. 

A good Senior Manager must have survival instincts and what I call radar antennae.   My antennae go up when ever something does not pass the smell test.   I guess after 33 years in business, I am inherently suspicious and somewhat distrustful and always ready with Plan B.   If something appears too good to be true,  it is usually because it is not true.  People and companies that fail to see the train coming are often run over, or eventually end up out of business.   This is probably the reason many new businesses fail within the first few years of founding.  When it happens, there are always a million excuses; but in the end, it is really just a personal failure to see the train coming, whether in life, or in business. 

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