OK so GM is not officially bankrupt. But it’s just a matter of time. Why? It’s because their management has ignored market reality for 50 years. They had a chance in the ‘80’s and then the ‘90’s to fix it. Now they have few if any degrees of freedom to fix it, with nearly no way out.
Now barring a miracle it’s all over except for the frustration that it was all preventable. It’s sad when people don’t listen and aren’t courageous.
It’s hard to listen to market reality, it really is. Every business is surrounded by the reality of their own products, their own employees and their own culture. When the lack of listening leads to ignoring reality on a grand scale – as GM has done – it leads to failure. In GM’s case, it’s just on a much grander scale.
Small business owners take heart: it’s easier for you to listen. Your business is less ingrained in the past. Change is easier because you have less dysfunctional momentum to change. You have a chance. GM has nearly no chance. Toyota has won.
How to be successful and avoid GM’s failure:
1) Listen carefully – really listen to the market. That’s hard because it isn’t easy to listen to criticism or to facts that go against where we think things should be. The market is the market, people want what they want – and it’s our job as business people is to find offerings that match target markets that can sustain us.
2) Lead courageously – the massive failures of GM are not because of a lack of intelligent people at GM. The ones I know are smart. But they have lacked leaders with humility and courage. They’ve lacked the humility to LISTEN, and the courage to lead their group and the company in a different direction. And so with your small business it takes leadership to blaze a different path, especially if it flies in the face of the way things have always been. Be courageous!
My new favorite small business story is Miller Lighting Products www.millerlightingproducts.com. For 33 years they have been a traditional supplier of lighting products – including bulbs, fixtures, sensors and assorted other lighting products. But earlier this year they had the foresight of listening to the market, and the courage to lead the company in a different direction. They selected ‘green lighting’ as their key focus. Guess what? Genius!
Now everyone wants to talk to Miller Lighting Products. Phones are ringing off the hook and products flying out the door.
That’s careful listening.
That’s courageous leadership.
GM could have done it. It’s too late. Years of bankrupt listening and leadership has them teetering on financial bankruptcy.
Learn! Change your direction today before it’s too late for your small business.
Doug Bruhnke, Growth Nation