idea whose time has come

Last week I urged you to become a generator of valuable ideas as a way to earn greater access to clients and prospects. All ideas, however, are not created equal. So, which of your great ideas are most likely welcome now?

Many industries and companies are struggling with fundamental shifts in their strategic outlook brought on by dramatic changes in the availability and cost of two critical commodities: fuel and water. Oil prices are at historic lows, while water is facing historic scarcity. 

These are not temporary or cyclical spikes, but permanent changes that in many cases require entire sectors – transportation, autos, shipping/distribution, petro-based manufacturing, and agriculture, among the more visible ones–-and all of their suppliers and customers--to rethink how they do business.

Short-term thinkers will see only the immediate pain from these effects, e.g., price pressure from longtime clients, slower decision cycles, etc. But with foundational change also comes opportunity for those with the vision to anticipate how sectors and companies must and will respond, and the decisions they must make as a result.

So, how do you match your ideas to the times?

  • Acknowledge reality. Don’t act like it’s going to be business-as-usual; that will cost you credibility.

  • Gore your own ox. Well, to a degree. Recognize that stressed clients expect you to help them deal with their short-term cost-cutting imperative. Get out in front of this by suggesting ways to eliminate waste and long-ignored inefficiencies.

  • Participate in, and contribute to, the conversation in which they define their (much different) future. Think like an investor: If you had half of your retirement fund invested in this industry, what changes would give you confidence in the future? Note to self: If it’s a big enough client, collectively your firm may have an important part of its retirement virtually invested in this client in terms of future revenue and profit expectations.

The most exciting news may be the opportunity to break into organizations where you’ve long struggled to gain access. After all, in conditions where I absolutely have to come up with fresh ideas to assure my future, I’m likely motivated to expand the idea pool dramatically, and am open to fresh thinking from sources I previously felt no need to entertain.

This seismic macro-economic shift will produce many losers and winners. You may never again have an opportunity the equal of this.

Mike O’Horo

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