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Better Change: Nature vs. Nurture By James Feldman, CITE, CPIM, CPT, MIP
James D. Feldman -- The NOWIST James D. Feldman -- The NOWIST
Chicago, IL
Monday, January 26, 2009

Nature vs. Nurture

By James Feldman, CITE, CPIM, CPT, MIP

As 2008 ends, we know that 2009 will start with a large percentage of people and businesses facing more evidence that "Shift Happens!" With our two major industries ? auto and finance ? in crisis and consumer demand continuing to weaken, 2009 will be a very challenging year. It will require a newfound talent for coping with uncertainty and a significant "shift" in our thinking about how we do business.

I recently gave a presentation to meeting and incentive planners. The group was very diverse, including hotels, resorts, restaurants, transportation companies, and activities. All of the attendees were concerned about their businesses and their future, and much of the attention focused on identifying the next catastrophe of the current economic crisis.

That made me think of the "nature versus nurture" argument that has been going on for almost ever. Instead of applying the question to individuals and their development, I suggest we apply it to our current situation.

In fact, it does not really matter to business what "nature" brings, whether it is in the form of an economic tsunami or an Atlantic hurricane. We can prepare for it, try to manage its affects and even leverage it to our advantage. Nevertheless, we cannot control it. Nature, regardless of how hard we try is, by definition, uncontrollable.

In this light, the meeting attendees I spoke with agreed that it is pointless to worry about nature versus nurture. Both matter, but since there is nothing we can do about nature, we need to just let go. We need to allow the "natural" issues take care of themselves and prepare the best way we can to survive them.

That leaves us with nurture. There was clear agreement that future survival, let alone success, means that each organization must identify and nurture future leaders with the capacity to think strategically.

Cultivating leadership is just the beginning, though. I believe you should focus on nurturing your customers and suppliers, as well. Customers eventually will return. Start now with programs that will ensure they return to you. Moreover, even if you are not buying much now for your company, you will need dependable suppliers when things return to normal. Identify and nurture relationships with the better ones, and let them know you can be as good a customer as you want them to be a supplier.

Is this a surprising or radical new idea? Of course not. But our country is amidst the greatest economic failure since the Great Depression, people are scared and confused and looking for answers. As a result, speakers, writers and other "experts" all are out with new speeches, books and articles on the "secrets" of what makes people successful in tough times. And most of them miss the point.

There is no "secret" that will overcome the failure of an organization to nurture those who are the foundation of its success. That is the key to any successful venture. Not technology. Not price. Nurture.

Here's a year-end "nurture" suggestion:

Nurture business collaborations. Strategic partnerships and alliances can be built to evaluate and monitor an entire range of different business relationships. They are especially effective in helping you evaluate new markets and identifying new products and services that you can deliver using existing resources. Work with your managers to help determine how much time and effort should be invested in the relationship. Don't spend too much time on trying to make it work. Either it does or doesn't.

Here are my top objectives for collaborations:

*Gain access to new customer segments.

*Improve focus on your company's competitive advantage.

*Expand into complementary business.

*Gain access to technology or expertise.

*Improve production and delivery, while reducing costs.

Once you see the possibilities, a thorough and fact-based communication, grounded in a common understanding of objectives and transparent metrics among all the parties involved, is critical in building the trust necessary for a successful partnership. In my experience, organizations that dedicate an individual or a team to be responsible for alliances typically are better able to identify, evaluate, and execute alliances than are companies without a dedicated resource. In addition, third parties may be well worth the costs in being the "deal maker."

So as you approach the New Year, consider making a Better Change by identifying the customers, employees and suppliers that you want to keep. Consider their needs, wants, expectations and value. Consider collaborations and partnerships that produce win-wins. Then consider what you are willing ? and not willing ? to do to nurture your relationships with them.

Then just do it and see how nurture is the secret to overcoming nature in tough times.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this newsletter and responding to what you like, dislike, or want to change. Better Change will address these considerations to meet your needs. Drop me a note. Tell me what advice you value and how I can help. For 2009, I remain committed to offering intellectual capital to help you to achieve your potential.

Also, if you have a LinkedIn account and we have not connected, I would appreciate you adding me to your connections. I will be posting information on LinkedIn that will not be available elsewhere, and I don't want my readers to miss it. So click here and add me to your connections http://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesfeldman Naturally I will be happy to return the favor.

Happy New Year!
News Media Interview Contact
Name: James Feldman, CSP, PCS, CPT
Title: Professional Speaker
Group: Shift Happens
Dateline: Chicago, IL United States
Direct Phone: 312-527-9111
Cell Phone: 312-909-9700
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