Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Becoming Untouchable in a Flattening World

Today I am happy to welcome Jeff Black back to the blog with another of his "Relationship Story" insights titled, "Becoming Untouchable in a Flattening World". Here are his thoughts.

Things are changing in our business world in recent years. Did you notice? If not, you’re head is buried very deep. We all need to be aware of the realities of globalization. Thomas Friedman’s book "The World Is Flat" is a great description of the changes that are upon us from beginnings in the mid-80’s, as well as the direction we are heading. There are some chilling observations about how our current behavior will affect our future. Approached from a realistic (and not really political) perspective, the book makes it clear there is no turning back. My daughter just visited China as part of her Semester at Sea trip around the world (how cool is that!), and these changes were very clear even from her youthful perspective, saying "Dad, you had better invest in China!"

The book also talked about ways we can and must take this challenge on. The message was not about impending doom at all. A key point is made about the many things we do in America better than anyone else, but reminds us we must stay vigilant about maintaining these advantages. From an individual standpoint – both for companies and for each of us – we must focus all our efforts on making ourselves Untouchable. We must take action to protect ourselves and become "outsource-proof." This is not a challenge for the faint-of-heart, the unrealistic, or the change-averse.

First, we have to suck it up and prepare for a battle. I’m sorry to break it to you, but we have to compete. No free lunch, no entitlements – unless our choices and actions make it possible.

Second, we have to see ourselves for what we really are, what we are really good at. If "You can’t handle the truth" (see "A Few Good Men"), then you will not recognize where you are really competitive, and you’ll find yourself coming up short all the time.

Finally, we have to pick the right road and stay on it. To quote Ray Baird of the B2B marketing strategy agency RiechesBaird, "the tighter the focus, the stronger the brand." Our objective must be to become a magnet by creating demand for what we offer. We must recognize that we are much more likely to succeed by leveraging our greatest strengths, and we simply must release the peripheral pipe dreams. Trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for failure.

So the best way for us to make the changing world an opportunity and not a threat is to start inside ourselves and our companies, and become Untouchable. Using your true natural tools is the only path to greatness, and greatness is the only path to creating demand for your company, for your products, or for yourself.

Note from Bruce: Jeff Black is a respected member of the Southern California business community, fellow blogger, and a successful search professional for McDermott & Bull, Inc. a retained executive search firm based in Irvine, California. M&B specializes in recruiting difficult-to-find and critical talent for its clients and is the fastest growing executive search firm in Southern California.
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