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As Consumer Spending Wobbles, How Can Businesses Respond?
John Di Frances -- Keynote Strategic Innovation Speaker John Di Frances -- Keynote Strategic Innovation Speaker
Wales, WI
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Minding The Giraffes Business Innovation Book
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The Wall Street Journal 12/10/2012 Reports: "U.S. Consumer Spending, a Pillar of Economic Strength in Recent Months, is Showing Signs of Weakening."


Wales, WI, December 11, 2012 — It was only a matter of time before the public began to respond to the continuing economic malaise by beginning to trim personal spending.  The election, stubbornly high unemployment, the prospect of higher taxes whether or not a budget deal is struck in Washington, continuing layoffs and business closures and of course, the mess in Europe and the reality that sooner or later, an economically troubled Europe will have a significant impact, not just on the U.S., but most countries worldwide, are all weighing heavily on our economy. 


As personal credit card debt rises once again, the purchasing power of Americans will undoubtedly run out of steam.  Nor will the modest increase in November pre-holiday sales change the picture.  It is appearing that the total holiday period consumer spending merely occurred earlier, but will likely not total more real spending over last year and adjusted for inflation, maybe even less. 


Meanwhile, manufacturing is slowing down as well.  So far, the lone major exception is the auto industry, a critically important segment of the economy, but not  a large enough one to offset the many other slowing sectors.  Not much in the way of 'good tidings' this Christmas season for the business sector.  And the first quarter of 2013 is likely to bring more news of additional business sectors heading downward or at least turning in slow to no-growth results. 


Where does this leave business decision makers?  Many are uncertain, worried and unsure of what to do.  Nor will the traditional business tools of cost cutting and lean operations provide any further relief going forward.  Ringing costs out of operations, reducing overheads and other 'frugality' moves have already cut many organizations to the bone and in some instances, are doing more harm than good.  Pushing for increased productivity, more overtime to do more with less personnel and similar belt-tightening has already provided the benefits that could be achieved by such draconian actions. 


If additional savings cannot be rung out of operations, then what can be done to ensure sustainable growth in 2013 and beyond?


The answer is simple, a new direction must be found by which businesses large, medium and small can gain new marketplace advantages quickly and cost effectively.  Is this a matter of sheer luck or finding a miracle-worker with mystical powers?  No, nothing quite so easy. 


The growth opportunities needed will take more than that, they will require a radical paradigm shift by company leaders.  If you cannot spin gold out of straw, then the next best alternative is required.  That alternative can be described in one word, INNOVATION!


Why innovation?  Because innovation enables organizations of all types, sizes and descriptions to accomplish not just more, but much, much, more, with the same resources  Changing how we view and respond to the opportunities and problems we face is the only behavior that can change the outcomes we experience.  Simply continuing to do more of the same will only produce more of the same.  That paradigm becomes self-fulfilling and self-defeating. 


As a company leader, you may not be able to change the direction of the nation's economy, but you can alter the trajectory of your company and thereby, the results you experience in 2013 and beyond.  NO change in attitudes, outlook, practices and paradigms, WILL result in NO positive change in outcomes.  Remember, if you want something to change, then something must change. 


Adopting a mindset of actively pursuing innovation as a high priority company goal and fostering an environment that is encouraging and supportive of open innovation, is the first step to achieving the necessary paradigm and organizational culture change, which will allow innovation to come to your rescue.  Innovation begins first with people, people who are encouraged and empowered to move outside of the prevailing way of thinking and responding.  People who are driven not to accept the "inevitable future this anemic  economy imposes upon them," but rather people who believe that they can and will alter their destiny from losing to winning!


John Di Frances is the author of Minding The Giraffes: The People Side of Innovation released November 12, 2012, by Reliance Books


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Dateline: Wales, WI United States
Direct Phone: 262-968-9850
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