Courting herd

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I am totally confounded by all this talk of impending recession, liquidity crunch, inflation and all things catastrophic.  Sometimes I think, “Gawd, will there be an economy when I wake up tomorrow?”

 

I am not saying this is all babble.  But what annoys me more is that nobody tells me what to do or how to cope.  Tell me `this is your last day on earth’ – there is some finality to it.  But clearly that’s not the case because nobody has a clue what it is going to be like.  Nothing is clear.  But they still twaddle. 

 

So, left with no options, you follow the herd.

 

There is a tendency for business leaders to mimic their peers: following the herd is a safety mechanism. Should the herd start running, one instinctively follows, regardless of the threat. More often than not this makes sense, unless the threat has changed but the herd responses have not.  Herd behavior thus is of limited merit in a rapidly changing environment. In any case, herd theorists will no doubt be aware that those who choose to follow the group spend most of their time wading through the mire.

So we see talk of innovation and competitive advantage instantly replaced by sustainability and survival. “Bringing costs into line with revenues” becomes the new mantra.  But what if this impending recession is actually one of a series of seismic adjustments that can be attributed to inevitable realities such as globalisation or the web? If so, then simply battening down the hatches until the storm blows over is at best a tactical response and at worst one that might permanently damage an organisation’s ability to cope with turbulence.

Enlightened business leaders will see economic clouds as an opportunity to steal a march on their competitors.  The fact that it is unclear when there might be a return on this innovation investment should not be reason to abandon it – periods of inactivity do not just halt progress, they reverse it. Fair weather innovators, like fair weather athletes, never reach their full potential.

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