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VOL. 129 | NO. 97 | Monday, May 19, 2014
Graber Atkinson

Michael Graber & Jocelyn Atkinson

How to Get Unstuck From a Rut

By MICHAEL GRABER & JOCELYN ATKINSON

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Perspective is everything. In life and work life this adage proves true time and time again.

If you can see opportunity without preset lenses, you are more prone to make advantageous use of this gift. If you harness the skill to zoom out and zoom in, you see your business in many different settings, in different categories and segments, and serving different customers. We, at the Studio, cannot empathize the power of fresh thinking and a cached perspective.

Let’s look at the opposite skill. Your organization has attained the glory of management, operational excellence. You have orchestrated the entire flow of work down to a predictable algorithm.

While you may realize a short-term bump in cost savings because you have optimized efficiencies, something is not right. No matter how tightly you put the screws to your sales team, sales are down, heading toward flat.

What you manufacture is no longer desired at a premium price. Imports are killing your once-sacred margin. The market has changed. Distributors turn your loyal relationship into a parts-dealer relationship. Low cost is king. And, they will not take your higher-margin products to their clients. The market has changed. Your business model, although optimized, is no longer viable. You have gotten so rigid in your perspective that you cannot adapt and transform the business to meet today’s demands. You have essentially created a trap, built upon the faulty assumption that your snapshot of reality from which you derived the operational algorithm was an eternal truth.

Now, you must change or face extinction. If you kept a fresh perspective – and the ability to zoom in and zoom out – you would have never found yourself in such a costly bind.

Leaders today realize they need to disorient their perspectives and reorient themselves to the market with fresh eyes on a daily or weekly basis to avoid getting stuck in such a deep rut. The market is never linear, nor should businesses be.

There are exercises leadership teams can do to disorient their perspectives, think creatively about their businesses and awaken to a broader sense of opportunities for their firms.

If you are stuck and what once worked well is working against you, try some creative disorientation and role-playing to way find and lead a way out.

Jocelyn Atkinson and Michael Graber run the Southern Growth Studio, a strategic growth firm based in Memphis. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

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PROPERTY SALES 65 366 17,721
MORTGAGES 70 417 23,068
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 15 91 4,519
BUILDING PERMITS 210 932 42,157
BANKRUPTCIES 62 299 16,691
BUSINESS LICENSES 19 80 5,781
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