Gravity is simply part of life on this planet. There’s no point in fighting it. Efforts to eliminate it are wasteful and create side effects worse than the “problem” of gravity itself. So rather than fighting it, we simply design for it. Furniture, clothing, coffee mugs, elevators, writing utensils – all account for gravity. In fact, they do such a great job that we forget about gravity until something (such as this blog post) brings it to the foreground.
Businesses too, have forces that closely parallel with the forces of gravity. For the sake of discussion, we’ll call them “resistance”.
Resistance in business has many forms. It could be financial, such as taxes and regulations. It could be human, such as gossip or a tendency for self-destructive behavior. It could be physical, such as wear and tear on furniture and equipment. It could be the pace of new knowledge and new technology, making recent purchases and skills obsolete.
Resistance must be managed and counteracted every day, or like a jet aircraft without fuel, a business will crash. Copious amounts of energy and attention must be continuously added, or a downward spiral will occur.
The answer isn’t to look for the swift and certain solution to the long-term problem. The solution is to replace the down cycle with the up cycle. …to become aware of the down cycle… (then) …understand what triggers it and then learn to use that trigger to initiate a different cycle.
Replacing a downward cycle with an “Up” or virtuous cycle is not a simple matter; yet it is a necessary part of business success. Making such a transition often involves counter-intuitive thinking. Seth Godin offers these examples:
The fish restaurant that, as sales go down, borrows money to buy ever fresher fish instead of cutting corners that will lead nowhere good. Or the ad agency that follows a client loss not with layoffs, but with hiring of even better creative staff.
Like gravity, resistance is simply part of running a business. We must design for it, counteract it, and be in a state constant readiness as grenades are hurled our way.
The most hideous danger of resistance is the numbing effect of its constant presence.