Friday, April 17, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - You Can't Shrink Your Way to Greatness

In this time of budget slashing and cut backs of every kind, I have been working hard to come up with a way to succinctly say why cutting back severely on innovation efforts and investment is a very bad idea. Not only is it a bad idea, in some cases in may prove to be the nail in the coffin for many companies. If they intend to invest in their companies only once the economy improves, they will find themselves far behind their competitors with foresight. Plus, it's cheaper to invest and innovate when times are tough because vendors are willing to make negotiations and compromises that they would never make in fat times.

Until yesterday, I was coming up short on that succinct explanation. I wanted a 10 word sentence to say just what I said in the preceding paragraph. And as if a gift fell out of the sky, someone said to me "you can't shrink your way to greatness." Perfect! 7 words and on-point. We can rise to a challenge or we can steal away from it, hiding under a rock until the clouds clear. It's hard to be brave and courageous in times like this. Some people may even call it fool-hardy. I'd say it's vital.

Look at the alternative: without investment in innovation, we are stalled, suspended in time. We aren't doing anything for our teams, nor are we doing any helpful work to pull us as a whole out of this recessionary situation. I'd argue that it's not our option to invest and innovate now. It's our duty, our responsibility, to ourselves and to one another. We are the ones we are waiting for to save us.

If our goal is to be great, then this is the time to be both prudent and forward-thinking in our spending. This recovery is a long-term proposition so let's decide where we want to be in 5 years, 10 years, and take the steps now that make that goal inevitable as opposed to just a hopeful possibility.

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