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Lies, damn lies and Statistics – Organisation Development

So what is it then?  Is unemployment going up or down?  Is the country debt getting worse or better?  What exactly is happening regards the economy, does anyone actually know?  Are we feeling more positive because it is sunny outside or are things really getting better?

Depending who you speak to, will depend on what answer you get to these questions.  What is sure is that no one really knows.  There seems to be an intake of breath as people begin to possibly, maybe, start to believe that it might actually be getting better.  That we might actually be looking at a growing economy and an improvement in economic circumstances.  Maybe.

So what should an organisation do?  Splash the cash, loosen the reins, crack open the bubbly?  Well maybe not yet but… it might be time to consider how you prepare for growth.

Contingency planning is often associated with disaster recovery, what to do when the worst happens.  However, todays economy, after the tough lessons of the last few years, requires a different type of plan, one based on positive expectations of the economy turning around and preparing for an operation which needs to respond to growth pressures.

“Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.”

The business season we are in is well matched to the weather at the moment.  There are glimpses of warmer weather to come.  We begin to think about changing from our winter wardrobe of thermal underwear, heavy knitted jumpers, Padded coats and wooly hats to clothing more suited to warmer weather.

But that change requires some preparation (especially if you are a lady).  Revealing parts of your body that haven’t seen the light of day for a period of times requires some work.  For me that involves a pedicure and intense moisturizing of my pasty legs in preparation for the big reveal when I start wearing shorts and sandals in hotter weather.

Organisations need to be prepared for a change in the economic landscape.  Taking advantage of an improving economic climate requires different and different operating mindsets and practices.  Leave it too late, and you might miss the boat and your upward trajectory will at best be delayed.

Growth doesn’t just happen on the P&L of a business, it presents major challenges for an organisations operation, production, workforce and processes and will change the way the organisation works.  If you grow to fast, or get hit by unexpected or unprepared for growth it can be as much a disaster as a sudden downturn.  Is your business prepared in regards to being able to supply to a surge in demand?  Have you got the cash flow, employees, supply chain, capacity and capability to cope if the market returns to buoyancy?

From a development perspective, it is your people who will deliver the success your organisation wants to achieve.  As Jim Collins describes in his book have you not only got the right people on the bus but have you got the right people on the right seats of the bus, and more fundamentally do you have the right bus?  Will individual employees in your organisation be able to flex and adapt to the pains of growing after such a long period of difficulty?  Have you equipped them to be responsive to those changes and to be prepared to grow with the business rather than get in the way of growth?

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”  Mark Hanson

And what about your , do you know what they need now?  Do you know what they will need from you should their business start growing?  How do you communicate with them and how close are you to understanding where their business is in regards to growth?

It is very easy to focus on what is going badly and ‘fixing problems’ that exist, but after such a long period of bad news, fixing your eyes on opportunities and the possibility of good times and growth might feel strange.

“Growth means and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.”