"Branches & Roots": A Look at Strategy and Competition Through the Lens of Business and Sport
A Banyan Tree Strategies Communication
Conflict is King
Happy 240th Birthday to America! As we think about our nation's birthday in the midst of an interesting political time here in the USA, World News has really dominated the last 45 days. Trying to shed light on all the scenarios in Europe is daunting, but if we use our lens of 'group into teams' we found some similarities in the happenings in London with what companies face when they don't fully engage all of their constituencies. Henry Kissinger's paragraph in a WSJ op-ed this week synthesized it best for our tastes. "The coin of the realm for statesmen is not anguish or recrimination: it should be to transform setback into opportunity." Seems like you could change the word statesmen with coach, manager, leader, or parent and it still rings true.
The Fourth of July and the US 240th year had us thinking about anniversary numbers and things long past being relevant still today. We noticed that this is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death. Historians have been helping us understand just how much our Presidents have been influenced by The Bard, even after 400 years. Here is an interesting article by Edward Rothstein.
The number 400 then had us leaping off to the upcoming anniversary of our country's discovery by Europeans in 1620. We started to wonder if there is anything we can learn from those early pioneers. Our research turned up something we found of interest. It turns out that even though this group of explorers had to be bound close together and cooperate in order to survive the journey, once they got here, conflict reigned.
From a media perspective, conflict makes for good copy, and it appears that we are entering a period of well documented strife. This time around, however, thanks to the smart phone, we have three billion journalists jamming the endless channels. We wonder where a young Kissinger would find the opportunity in that?
Cat Scratch Fever
If a politician must communicate why they are the right person for the hour at hand, and we have for decades laughed at how they will say anything to get elected, then the time may have come for the mid-career professional to take a page from their book. Two economies, the old and the new, are crashing into each other with massive force and frequency these days. The collateral damage are the people who work as employees. The language we use to discuss how a company shrinks its employee base will always mask the harsh reality for the person who has been let go. Terms such as RIF (reduction in force), normalize, and other catchy explanations keep the people who remain comfortable in their seats, yet in the back of their mind they have to be wondering: Am I next?
Recent engagements and meetings had us learning more and more about what a professional could be communicating when it comes to their strengths and capabilities. We have named a new tool Re-CAST (Career Assessment Strategic Training). We are happy to share with you the basics of what have learned so far.
In brief, we all need to be able to communicate what our strengths are, what type of team player we are, where we work best, all wrapped up in the context of the market reality for the institution. Companies are adjusting to the needs of their customers every year, and this creates an opportunity for an individual who can articulate their value to the company's needs in the future.
While some of this may seem like timeless advice, the difference these days is the duration of the commitment. The more flexible the individual can be when engaging with an institution, the more they will be able to charge for their services. A large reason for this comes from the heavy government oversight companies face when it comes to the category of an employee, and how quickly customers are changing their mind. This keeps organizations reluctant to hire someone full time. The one-two punch of a fickle customer and a strict regulator can make any business owner gun-shy.
Taking a page from a congressman who runs for re-election every two years, building your career with two-year tours of duty within a company appears attractive. How you articulate this and how you go about finding the right company to team up with now becomes a very important skill to have. Gone are the days of attending the best college possible, or to acquire the best training program possible from the largest company, and then not have to think about career positioning ever again. The frequency with which the professional will need to assess if a company is a good fit, and then communicate how their contribution will make the greatest impact, is on the rise.
We welcome your feedback on our one pager here.
Hey Buddy, How About a Lyft?
If there ever was a shining example of adapting their individual talents to the needs of an enterprise in the context of a market reality, it has to be Shaquile O'Neal. A giant from the day he was born, Shaq dealt with all the hype that came with being "The Man" in college and then the pros. He handled the expectation and learned how to share the ball and won multiple NBA titles.
Recently he has joined the team at TNT to analyze NBA games with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. Shaq's voice is so low, you have to turn up the TV to hear what he says, but it is always worth it. He talks and preaches about "the others" and how you only win when you get the ball moving in all five players hands. He also is completely comfortable in his own skin, and uses humor as a fantastic motivator and collaborative elixir.
His recent marketing efforts with ride sharing company Lyft had us in stitches and even if you don't find this as funny as we do, consider how Shaq is using his attributes to his advantage and adapting to the market realities of the day. Well done Shaq!
We welcome any comments and have a fun and safe Fourth of July!
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