Preparing for a New Economy - How to Restructure Successfully

Welcome to the New Economy!  Although at times the current environment might seem daunting for a business owner, executive or professional, now is the time to take action and look at ways to restructure the company to be ready for exciting and prosperous times to come.  Business leaders cannot sit back waiting for a bad economy to get better.  Cutting expenses and downsizing only go so far.  Can management take advantage of this opportunity to move ahead of the competition with new business, technology and marketing strategies?  Are you and your workforce ready to collaborate to embrace the advanced technologies and new practices that can dramatically and positively affect how you operate, market and grow your business?

If you choose to take the path of restructuring, you might consider someone from the outside who can:

  • bring a new perspective
  • challenge the status quo
  • generate ideas
  • help you gain efficiencies with a new technology strategy
  • help you design a new marketing strategy
  • introduce you to valuable contacts
  • draw support from an extensive network of expert professionals and businesses

In the end, any new direction that is adopted is Yours to embrace, develop and use.

So how would an expert consultant begin such an assignment?  The first step would be to go into the company and learn about their products and services, industry, client base and internal processes and procedures.  Most of all, get to know the people!  Ask a lot of questions and listen with a desire to understand first, before offering solutions or suggesting changes.  Besides the technical, fact finding questions a consultant would ask value based what and how questions:

  • What is important to you about…
  • What is holding you back from...
  • How would you...

Avoid any why questions that would generate rationalizations.  Instead, look for and identify value based criteria.  

Try this exercise with someone and observe the differences in the two approaches:

  • Person A asks Person B “What about your work is most rewarding to you?”  Listen to the response.  Then ask “Why is that (the most rewarding element) important?”  Listen to the response.
  • Now have Person B ask Person A “What about your work is most rewarding to you?” (same first question as above)  and listen to the response.  Now change up the second question and ask “What is important about the most rewarding element of your work?”  See how the response is different.  You have just identified value based criteria of that person.

Consultants need to let people get to know them… and to build Trust.  That also helps them get honest and direct feedback from others.  Remember the goal is to build a team that is ready to re-launch the company and soar to new heights in 2010.

At this point an effective consultant will have established a platform from which to bring the team together to collaborate on ideas and break-throughs for change.  Change can come in many forms, whether automating a workflow or business process with information technology or outsourcing, attracting new customers using referral marketing and social media strategies, or orienting the company culture around a new Internet-enabled business model.

Change is very uncomfortable for most people because they do not know how it will impact their world.  Business owners and executives want to engage highly capable consultants who come with thought provoking questions that quickly identify areas for improvement and who will create discussions to solicit constructive solutions.  If the solutions are the employees, then the opportunity for change and implementation is huge.  They are in control of changing their world.  With your consultant you will have created the “buy-in” that is necessary to create the success you desire.

So you ask, why bring in a consultant?  You know your company, your market, your employees and what you want to achieve.  The answer:  the consultant comes without any biases, can solicit confidential feedback and be the bad guy while you get to be part of the team building and the creation of collaborative change.

Now you are ready for developing the plan, designing the implementation and executing the strategy.  Hint: Today, Internet and web technologies are touching and changing all aspects of virtually all businesses and should be an essential component for developing your new business strategies, productivity solutions and marketing plans.

 

Margaret Wolford is a business strategist and consultant and a member and subject matter expert in the ETSZONE Network.