Adapt to Survive

Greetings from beautiful Reno!

There is no doubt that the last three days have been absolutely gorgeous. I hope this isn’t spring just teasing us, after all, it is supposed to rain the next few days. Sad…

Today will be short and sweet! Again, my supply chain management class serves as the inspiration for this blog, and as excited as I am to end the semester, I think I will really miss this course. The business world can be cutthroat, brutal, and unforgiving, and in these economic times, you have to adapt or vanish as your competitors trample you into the dust.

We had the VP of Sales for Haws, Scot McLean, stop by our classroom and speak to us for an eye-opening two hours. It was incredible to hear his tales of surviving the international business world and the many pieces of advice he had to offer up. Haws is a world-class leader and producer of water fountains, safety showers, and other emergency equipment. Honestly, it didn’t sound like a thrilling industry to me, but that was just me being ignorant. I was hooked after only 15 minutes of his presentation.

Here’s a few pieces of solid advice from his talk:

  • Be aware of constantly shifting paradigms – Change is constant, and paradigms are changing constantly. These will definitely keep you on your toes as a business. Interestingly, he talked about the shift toward bottle water (a total business hoax seeing as how it costs you the equivalent of more than a gallon of gasoline to get the same amount of water). There are thousands of other shifts going on around us. Look at Netflix and Redbox for example. Why should I plop down $25 for a DVD the day it comes out when I can just be patient and get it through an alternative source?
  • Have the right people in the right seat – Nothing screams “trouble” more than having the wrong person in the wrong job. It’s tough having to rearrange companies, either by bumping people into different positions or letting them go, but as Scot discussed it’s often for the good of the company. Some “eggs needed to be broken” to realign the company and set it up for future success. I don’t support cutting off loyal employees without giving them a chance but I understand his point. It’s like going camping, you need the right gear in the right bag at the right time…
  • Jobs to lead are not jobs to know – Probably the best quote of his presentation, was the fact that even though he’s a VP he really doesn’t know that much. He relies on his staff and colleagues to be the experts and to teach him when he needs to know. It takes a great leader to be able to admit they don’t know, and the loyalty that they can command from their employees can easily increase as they see that their leaders value their opinions and their knowledge.

What kind of leadership do you work for? Do you feel valued and needed? How is your company surviving in this brutal economy?

Picture credit 1. Picture credit 2.


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