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Post-Election World Offers Challenges and Opportunities for American Business

Thursday, December 1, 2016
Prepare for Volatility

"Volatility is the new normal," points out Lisa Anderson, known as The Manufacturing ConnectorSM and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., Claremont, CA.

"The election results created surprise and shock across the country – and world. Business leaders must become comfortable with volatility and find ways to prepare for success. Flexibility, agility and speed are cornerstone to success. For example, we should never design a system with a single source of supply. Instead, we must have backup suppliers and continually order from them in smaller quantities so that they are ready to go when circumstances change such as a natural disaster strikes, tariffs change or quality worsens.

"By staying light on your feet, you'll be able to leverage opportunities that might pass by quickly. Start thinking about the future and prepare strategies for where the puck is going; not where it is currently," she notes.

Go Back to the Basics

"Our recent political turbulence is likely to produce some economic turbulence, and the key word is 'some'," said Bill Sanders, Managing Director of Roebling Strauss, Inc., San Francisco, CA and contributing author to the just published Recalculating, a book on driving small business growth. "Our systems, political and economic, are still sound despite the noise produced by our partisan echo chambers.

"Now is time to refocus on the basics. First, strengthen and make sure you personally have a support system that helps you stay optimistic, focused, and accountable. Second, get closer to your customers and employees so you can better understand the actions you need to take to better serve them. And third, review not only your overall strategy, but take a deep look into your operational strategy to ensure you are correctly assessing risks and are able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise," Sanders said.

Focus is the Key to Success in 2017

"Keeping your focus upon the business will be most important for 2017, especially during the first half of the year," points out Voss W Graham, known as the Organizational Architect and CEO of InnerActive Consulting Group Inc., Memphis, TN. "Uncertainty regarding changes and new policies can be major distractions for leaders and staff.

"While the political battles may be interesting to observe, leaders need to remain true to their business purpose. Focusing upon organic growth, favorable results, and the development of talent for the future should be areas of critical focus. These potentially turbulent times require focus on marketing strategies and retention of your best customers. Look for new ways to improve your relationships with your key customers. Customer service is becoming more of a differentiator for customer relationships, too. Many organizations have neglected the customer service experience. Focus on these areas," said Graham.

Success Will Be Amplified By Building Trust

"With strong winds of change imminent, one truth will be solid—the success of a business is based on trust," says Alan Willett, a leading expert in the business of technology and author of the book, Leading the Unleadable.

"Some business owners are excited about possible changes coming and others are worried. In my conversations, I encourage them to not lose too much time on what could be and instead to focus on what continues to be a fundamental truth.

"That truth is that especially in times of change, your customers and clients will be looking to hold onto some things that are rock solid. Provide the reassurance that your business will continue to provide the excellence that they desire," Willett said.

Lessons from Misunderstood Data Analysis

"The 2016 United States Presidential election will go down in history for many reasons, one of which is the failure of the vast majority of polls to predict the winner," notes Rebecca Morgan of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks, Inc. "The USC / LA Times Daybreak poll was the only major statistical predictor of a Trump victory. Why is that?

"The answer to that question is important to manufacturers because of the expanding role of data in our businesses. If all those professionals can get it wrong, how do we ensure our data and analysis are valid?

"ERP, MES, Barcoding, RFID, IoT – the list of data-oriented investments being made by the average manufacturer goes on and on. Companies survey customers, suppliers, and employees. Is that data accurately reflecting the thoughts of those groups?"

Morgan advises, "Let the 2016 election provide valuable insights to your organization. The data can be true, but wrong. The analysis can be valid, but misleading. I strongly encourage every manufacturer to blend strong statistical skills with business acumen. And if the data shows something surprising, it may just be right."

American Business Will Remain Internationalized

"US businesses involved in international trade, whether for export, sourcing, or foreign direct investment may be concerned that policy changes hinted at by the new administration could affect their businesses negatively," said Patrick Daly, managing director of Dublin, Ireland-based Alba Consulting Group.

"However, regardless of any policy changes, the drivers behind the internationalization of American business over the last 40 years are still present and real. These drivers include growth through accessing new overseas markets, competitiveness through alternative sources of supply, and risk mitigation through the diversification of revenue streams.

"While trade agreements may flounder, and tariffs may come into force, a retreat into the bunkers will not impress shareholders or customers, regardless of what Washington thinks," Daly noted. "The key to success in the face of this uncertainty is to ensure that your international operating strategies and supply chains for manufacturing, distribution, and retail provide you with real options to adapt to changing circumstances at home and abroad as they unfold."

Don't Let Opportunity Catch You Unprepared

"Most leaders were surprised, even unprepared, for the election results," said Gary Patterson, the FiscalDoctor® and author of Million Dollar Blind Spots: 20/20 Vision for Financial Growth. "Consider the greater tendency for unforeseen, well-financed competitors to target opportunities to disrupt the establishment to create their next opportunity.

"Time can be your friend, for those few who anticipate and prepare for Million Dollar Blind Spots risks before they find you, and grab opportunities before they quickly disappear," recommends Patterson.

Post-Election Success Requires Strategy

Dr. Maynard Brusman, a consulting psychologist, executive coach, and emotional intelligence/mindful leadership expert, notes, "Now that Donald Trump will become the next US president, Jeff Bezos and the companies he owns — Amazon and The Washington Post specifically — may have to brace themselves. Taxes and antitrust are areas that could face increased scrutiny under Trump's presidency. Trump might also encourage Apple to build its iPhones in the US, which would reshape the American economy in unprecedented ways."

According to Dr. Brusman, "Setting the right company strategy includes three elements. First, create an inspirational statement of purpose. Next, be sure everyone understands how his/her actions and leadership relate to value provided. Third, a good strategy requires effective communication and positive rewards for innovation."

"One of the most important ideas for the future growth of an organization is to create a culture of engagement," Dr. Brusman advised.

Mindset is Critical

Gayle Lantz, founder of WorkMatters, Inc., a leadership consulting firm based in Birmingham, AL, believes the impact of the election on business will differ based on how executives and owners choose to think about the situation.

According to Lantz, "It's important to remember that there are many variables that impact the success of a business: the business leader's mindset, company vision, culture, strategy, financial strength, employee capabilities, and teamwork.

Lantz encourages leaders to pay attention to their own mindset and to keep a long-term view.

"For example, if a leader is fear-based and negative in their thinking, they will approach the business differently than another leader who is courageous and optimistic. Leaders should keep their focus on aspects of the business over which they have more control. There will always be external or political factors that cannot be controlled. Developing an organization that adapts well to change is critical."

Value Statements Are Critical Now

"The election results mean that your business needs to dig even deeper to express your firm's values," advises Karen Eber Davis, author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and president of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, a Sarasota, Florida firm that helps businesses obtain returns on their philanthropy.

"In this post-election world, you can choose a side, ignore the divide, or, focus on long-term solutions that benefit everyone. If you focus on effective nonprofit partnerships, you will prove that your value statements are more than rhetoric. Effective partnerships will help you gather and retain talent that aligns with your values. These will propel you forward in our new world."

Inclusion and Meaningful Interaction More Crucial Than Ever

"Companies will still need to be profitable, innovative, and hire the best people," advises Simma Lieberman, diversity and inclusion award winner and thought leader in San Francisco, CA. "There will be less government support for diversity and inclusion and less regulations regarding harassment and discrimination.

"Companies that support diversity and inclusion as integral to their business will continue to support it. Those that don't will lose good people. Global market expansion, and the diverse customer base in the US continue to make cultural intelligence essential.

"Due to the recent increase in overt hate speech, and attacks on different minorities, business leaders will have to institute and implement policies regarding language and behavior in the workplace. Organizations that only focused on diversity numbers will see that without inclusion and meaningful interaction, there could be an increase in demographic silos, conflict and stagnation.

"In order to prevent or break through demographic and departmental silos, business leaders will need to create more opportunities for employees of all backgrounds to get to know each other better, find commonalities and collaborate across differences.

"Businesses that can increase collaboration throughout the organization will be most successful, maximize the most talent, and prevent the kind of interpersonal conflict that can harm productivity, tank profitability, and block innovation." Lieberman said.

Opportunities to Reengage with Customers

The long, contentious election process caused many consumers to tune out and defer spending, according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters. "Now that the election is behind us, expect to see pent-up demand for many products and services."

Donald Trump's surprise victory raises questions about the use of analytic tools for marketers. "If major research organizations in such a high stakes, high visibility situation weren't able to predict the outcome of this election, can you be sure the analytics you are using will accurately predict your own customers' behavior?" she said.

"Be careful about using data to arrive at a pre-drawn conclusion. Don't rely on old, outdated assumptions. Just because you haven't seen a Black Swan doesn't mean there isn't one out there that can impact your business."

Focus on The Future, Not the Election

"Let me swim against the current and suggest that the recent election will have very little impact on business," said SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD.

"This was an unimportant election—two unfavorable candidates, 80 million registered voters not voting (that's equal to the entire population of Germany). The country's economy and markets will be the big influences, the economy is seeing unprecedented growth, and we mostly sell to ourselves—the world's greatest market. The people sitting around—privately and in business—agonizing over the election instead of accepting it will lose ground to those who are focusing on their own futures," Weiss said.

 
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