The title of this article is a derivative of a John C Maxwell quote, and resonated well with me today. I gave some strategy presentations two weeks ago in Adelaide and Perth. I included the attached photo of the Cadillac 452. I said to the audience that I am the world’s foremost authority on my opinion, and in my opinion the 452 is a good-looking car. The Cadillac 452 was released in January 1930. The stock market crash that signalled the beginning of the Great Depression was October 1929. As bad as the Great Depression was, there were still people buying Cadillac’s and every other brand of luxury car. There were people building homes and in general prospering.
In my presentations two weeks ago, I talked to the groups about Michael Porter's Industry Analysis, his 5 Forces and industry attractiveness. I also talked to them about a PESTLE analysis. (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental). The problem is that if you are already in business, you cannot change your industry, you cannot change the Political, Economic, Social, Legal and Environmental factors impacting on your business.
The whole point of my strategy book is that you cannot change external factors which only leaves you with what you can change internally. This is where the MORTARS analysis comes into play.
To keep it short; a business has to ask itself if it has the right Management; leadership with the right capabilities. Does it have the Team Esprit de Corp (The proud and comfortable feeling that you belong to a group whose purpose you believe in). Are you committed to your Raison d'être/Purpose/Why? And very importantly, what Organisational support structures do you need in place to survive and then prosper? All of these questions are asked through the lens of emotional intelligence, the ARS of MORTARS.
Walter Chrysler reputedly borrowed 60 million dollars in 1928 and paid it off by 1935. There were about 300 breweries that opened the day after prohibition was lifted. They survived prohibition and the Great Depression by changing internally, making ginger beer, opening dance halls and taking odd jobs.
Finally, the firm I was managing during the GFC was struck with the worst kind of news. We sold equipment to the Aquaculture industry and months after I took over as CEO, a Norwegian won the Nobel Peace prize for the paper he wrote on Human Rights in China. China responded by cutting off all salmon imports from Norway. The largest fish farm in the world dumped hundreds of tonnes of salmon on the market at below cost. That firm and all other salmon farms in Norway stopped any new form of capital expenditures for the year. The enormous equipment supplier companies in Norway, all went looking for new markets and a couple of them set up offices in Tasmania. Despite the GFC and hyper-competition, our revenues continued to grow strongly. I had a mantra at that time, and it was: “I heard there was a GFC, but I refuse to participate.”
Again, you cannot change the external environment. There is definitely hope in the future, so exercise your power in the present, and take all the practical steps that you can take now, but like all strategy it is about what you change internally.
Fritz Shoemaker is the author of ChEQmate: Using Corporate held Emotional Quotient as a Winning Business Strategy. – Available on most bookstore websites or at www.fritzshoemaker.com