The C-suite brigade needs to convene a series of budget breakouts as soon as leading companies get over the “wait until next year to see if the surplus is real” syndrome.
In the light of the budget debate, it will be essential to take a clean sheets approach that recognises that it will be a couple of years before an Abbott Government could expect clear air after a couple of elections and a massively downsized public sector delivers a renewed sense of business confidence.
Those that are going to cut staff, pass on costs and generally promote the Hanrahan view of the wait for the replacement of Julia Gillard will go through a period of stagnation that is self-fulfilling. Those that take the Pollyanna path will assume that China will help raise all boats and that last year’s business plan just needs a cut and polish.
Every other company will take a longer-term view that establishes five key budget breakout sessions for their top team. This involves an organisational review of business performance and identifies the core competencies that will maintain a trim operation until the end of calendar 2012.
1. The executive needs to hold a leadership retreat – a whole day out to review the impact of the patchwork economy and the gap between those with who got budget handouts and those that were hit with higher costs of doing business and living. This is the BUDGET BREAKOUT session that will undertake a full risk analysis, identify trends that are at an end and construct a platform for growth.
2. The senior management needs to have a series of three hour breakfasts to which key section heads are invited to establish how to confirm productivity gains that can be made rather than assume that staff culling is the answer. This is the PERFORMANCE REVIEW BREAKOUT session that will undertake a full risk analysis, identify trends that are at an end and construct a platform for growth.
3. The advertising and marketing consultants and sales representatives then need to have a couple of after-hours happy hour and planning sessions to meet with
the executive and senior management team. This is the STRATEGIC MARKETING BREAKOUT session that will look for win/win/win opportunities to reduce
inefficiencies, review customer contact links and develop concurrent marketing initiatives that build brand presence.
4. Family members, shareholders and investors then can be invited to a business lunch to thank them for their support and hear presentations from the executive and senior management. Respectful and inclusive engagement of key supporters ensures that everyone is aware of the need to cut waste, reward initiative and actively promote the brand in the wider community. This is the BUSINESS FAMILY BREAKOUT session that generates internal cohesion, supports the broad mission, vision goals and objectives of the company.
5. Finally it is desirable to have an evening gathering of all of the trade and professional allies of the company who provide superior products and services, maintain the supply chain and actively promote sales support to customers and consumers. This is the ultimate GOODWILL BREAKOUT session that develops the corporate culture and community relationships that keep everyone aligned in the face of the tough times and cements the relationships that not only protects but promotes tangible goodwill.
Over the next few months, this investment in business breakout sessions will underwrite the leadership and strategic management that will be well placed to make the next financial year a standout success.
Dr Colin Benjamin is an entrepreneurship and strategic thinking consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up a universe of new possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Colin is also a member of the global Association of Professional Futurists.