A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Drifting or Driving?

The following article originally appeared in the August newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

In this robust market, there is a terrific amount of positive activity, and it appears that it could last for another 3-5 years!  Companies will have many opportunities to get work and make money.  No company will have to particularly excel to do this.  If a company has capacity and basic building competency, they should prosper.  They can just drift with the momentum of the market.

But there will also be another group of companies that will not only prosper, they will thrive.  They will take advantage of this rare market to build multiple generational organizations.  Their executive teams will not just drift with the market momentum; these leaders will drive their companies to pre-determined goals and reinvest profits to build more solid foundations; they will drive the necessary changes to move to the next level, to truly become, as heralded author Jim Collins says, “Built to Last.”

What is quite interesting is that it will be hard to tell the difference, from the outside, between the drifters and the drivers during this hyper phase of the market.  Both types of companies will be very busy; both will be adding people; both will be sought after by owners with projects.  But there is a major difference in how the decisions will be made about projects and people.  The drifters will act opportunistically; the drivers strategically.  No matter how busy, the drivers will retreat periodically to reexamine and reestablish their strategic goals, and recreate their value-based architecture for making decisions that align with long term priorities.

Driven companies will use this time to research and understand markets better, the forces that control them, the major players within them and the design and finance infrastructure that serves them.  They will attain the talent and corporate competency to serve the rising markets.

They will improve their processes and acquire the proven technologies that will allow future growth.  Perhaps, above all, they will significantly increase their talent development efforts, especially with their high potentials, and they will create multiple level succession plans.

While it may be hard to tell in these good markets, the difference will be visible when this momentum slows or stalls.  The drifters’ sailboats will stop or wash up on shore; the drivers’ motorboats will move forward, more slowly, but still with a direction they control.  Is your company drifting or driving?


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