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The Most Strategic Word For Today’s Times: “No”

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

This is the period we have been waiting for!  From every indication, and from many different sources, the next several years should see a robust construction market in all major sectors (commercial, industrial, residential and civil) and in all segments (e.g. office, medical, educational, retail, light industrial, etc.).  Companies that think and act strategically will use these coming years and this abundant market to build a stronger foundation so that they will add additional generations to their company’s future.  Those that think only opportunistically, will make money, but struggle again as soon as the cycle turns.

One of the critical strategic words that the great (as compared to the good) companies are using is the simple “no.”  They are saying no to projects, partners and people who do not align with their strategic thinking and strategic direction.  The reason they can say no, is that they are very clear as to when and to whom to say “yes.”  They know their target markets and clients; they know their preferred building partners (specialty or general contractors); and they know the people (perspective employees) that will fit their culture.

The companies that are able to say no have spent time analyzing which clients to serve and how to deliver a value to those selected that differentiates them from their competitors and for which the client is willing to pay a fair fee to cover their risk and services.  Knowing this, they say no to either the wrong type of client or the wrong type of fee.

The same is true for project partners.  Strategic companies know who will be competitive, competent and certain.  They know who is a valid risk with a quality commitment that will enhance both companies’ reputations in completing the specific project.  Knowing their criteria, they can say no to those who don’t meet it.

Finally, and a very tough issue at this time of a real talent shortage, they are clear about which perspective employees share and live their values, thereby fitting well into their company culture, and they say no to those who don’t, even when they desperately need people.  Truly great companies will say no to the wrong people even when it means having to say no to the right project because of lack of people.  They hold their culture sacred.


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