Hello SOTGC community,
This is a post that was inspired by my new counter-part (Lis). We were up in Los Angeles for a dinner with our newly appointed Area Vice President. I let her know that I was creating a Hunger Games of Business saga and asked if she had any ideas or suggestions. Lis comes from the industry (surgical device sales) and has a nine year track record of excellence at her previous company.
When I gave her the premise of what the Hunger Games of Business saga was going to be about, and told her what I had written, she said, “how about using the clock in the second book? How every hour it changes just like business always changes.” I sat for a few seconds to think about it and thought, “that is freakin BRILLIANT!!!!”
In the second Hunger Games books, Katniss and other winning tributes from games past find themselves back in the arena. Unlike the first book, Katniss now has a host of set sponsors who will be sending her gifts to keep her alive during the game, she has a dedicated alliance who seem to be set on making sure that she comes out alive, and she has an ally (Peta) who would willingly give his life to ensure her survival.
All this is very similar to the business world (minus the dying that happens in the books). We could think of Katniss as a great manager or leader who has acquired not only loyalty but also devotion from those who work for her. We can view the sponsors as people in positions above her, or even previous mentors that she can still count on to help give her advice, encouragement, and offer “life lines” when she is losing energy and needs support. And lastly we can view Peta as a mentor who has an emotional vested interest in her personal as well as business growth and development. A mentor who doesn’t have a romantic interest in her, but more one who will take time out of their life, no matter how busy they are or what kind of stress they are under, and will continue to lend support and advice.
In the second book, the arena is set up to be a continuous circuit of traps and attacks on the tributes. At first it causes complete confusion and mayhem for the alliance that Katniss is leading. However, when she listens to one of her teammates’ ramblings, and then assesses what they’ve been experiencing for the last few hours, she realizes that the arena is a clock of pre-set death traps. After they realize this, they re-form their strategy to not only keep themselves alive, but to use it against the other tributes.
In the game of business, things always change. They are not always predictable like the clock in the second Hunger Games book. However, if you pay close attention to what is going on around you, look at what has been going on in the past with your company, and then look at what the future could hold, you’ll be able to recognize patterns. Just like fashion recycles itself, just like the economy has cycles, business will constantly change, however there is a way to stay a bit ahead of the game….if you’re paying close attention.
One of the best examples to look at when trying to see the analogy between the clock in the Hunger Games arena, and the change in the political landscape of the company you work in, is to go through an acquisition. In my sales career I have lived through 4 acquisitions. The first one I went through was scary, unknown, and created a ton of tension and anxiety both in myself and my co-workers at the time. The next two that happened at that same company (before I got into medical sales) didn’t faze me at all. I had already seen what happens to people in my role during an acquisition (sales) and I had already figured out who (in the corporate structure) would be weeded out and “let go” as the new company came in and cleaned house. To be honest, at that previous company, I was OK with those decisions because they were made to enhance efficiency, and clear out the “cancers” in the company. When I say “cancers” I am referring to the people with negative attitudes and who hinder more than help with both the morale as well as the productivity of the company.
When the mid-sized company I worked with was acquired by a Global giant last year, I was ready. There were many signs that pointed to a very imminent IPO (we were then a privately held company) or an acquisition…so by the time the decision was announced….very few of us (hopefully) were surprised. I knew my job would be secured due to several different factors. I also had a good idea of what would happen to the highest people on the chain from the mid-sized company, so when those announcements were made they didn’t surprise me either. However, what tripped me up for months was what would happen to a couple people that I had come to depend on and truly cared for. That worry got in my head more than that of my own safety because the unknown of their happiness and job security ate me up inside. As it turns out, those people were fine. The ones who had decided they wanted to be part of the huge organization that had acquired us made strategic moves to secure their spots. And the ones that knew they wouldn’t thrive in such a corporate environment planned and executed their exit strategy.
What I learned through this recent acquisition is that I need to have more faith in those I have aligned myself with. Instead of spending time worrying about their outcome, I should have been paying more attention to the task at hand and positioning myself in the best situation possible to both support and help them, as well as be prepared for what would happen if/when they left or were re-positioned.
So the moral of this post is: pay attention to the past, be aware of what’s currently going on in your company, try to figure out what could happen in the future and start getting a strategy in order for if/when that happens. Also, have faith in those you have placed your trust and loyalty in…because the only outcome you can truly have an effect on is your own. You have to just hope that others are as aware and prepared as you yourself are. So how about you…at what hour of the clock is YOUR company in….and are you strategically placed for the hour about to strike?