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The Company That Attempts to Stand Alone Will Fall Behind the Competition

Mar 9, 2008
"No man is an island, entire of itself." --John Donne

This article emphasizes the importance of seeking new allies, adding more resources, and accepting new ideas to adapt to irresistible forces as quickly as possible, rather than staunchly maintaining your independence and thus developing poorer solutions more slowly. Conservative desires to rely on old standbys and take few chances in responding may actually be much riskier during a time of seeming crisis than trying your luck with new people and perspectives.

Being able to rely on trusted employees whose track record is well known is one way that enterprises and their leaders develop the confidence to address the changing face of their operating environment. However, when irresistible forces move in totally new ways, this approach will usually be the wrong one.

For example, if Latin American countries suddenly develop a powerful trading block with a single currency (something that could soon evolve), your enterprise will need to draw on substantial resources from excellent enterprises and individuals in those countries to make the most of your opportunities created by this new economic reality. Putting only your best North American or European people and allies to work on the problem instead will go only so far to improve communications with Latin American companies and customers, and will limit your success.

Companies should assume that substantial shifts in the values of foreign currencies and related economic changes and crises will be frequent and ordinary irresistible forces in the years ahead. Consequently, you need to develop management processes to diagnose the threats and opportunities that arise from such shifts before determining which skills and resources are needed in a particular circumstance.

The Internet has provided a good example of this problem. Some major companies made an early decision to be on the Internet, such as Levi Strauss which launched its Web site in 1994.

After spending a reported eight million dollars, the firm decided to stop selling its clothes on the Internet in 1999. What happened?

First, it took the company four years to decide to sell its clothes on-line because it could not determine how to avoid annoying its physical store retail customers. Then the company made many missteps, such as dropping all of its advertising for e-commerce and failing to think through a returns policy through its retail customers and its own outlets.

Clearly, Levi Strauss needed effective allies and resources in the beginning to help it think through and implement its on-line retailing. Your organization is no different in needing help to become more effective.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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