The Secret Business Philosophy For Survival in Hard Times – Rigidly Flexible and Flexibly Rigid

A stiff bough breaks in the winds of change.    

If you have ever watched a large healthy tree weather a storm, you will note that while the trunk is relatively rigid, it remains flexible.  The smaller branches, likewise, sway gently with the wind.  Unless the storm is so severe that it destroys everything in its path, the tree comes through with some minor damage but mostly in tact.  The tree’s “secret” is to be rigidly flexible and flexibly rigid.  A sick or dying tree soon breaks and expires.  

The analogy of the tree is the key to business survival, especially in the storm of hard economic times.  The bigger the storm the more the company must remain rigidly flexible and flexibly rigid in order to survive.  The most successful companies have learned well how to do this.  

A company must first have a core to which it is always committed.  The term rigid means unable to be changed. It must rely on this core to be the stabilizing force upon which to keep the company grounded.  It is this core that will hold the company together in hard times.  The company must be rigid.  

Yet, in order to continue to thrive a company must also be flexible, bending without breaking.  As in nature the key to survival is adaptation.  It is this flexibility that allows the company to meet the ever-changing needs of its customers without breaking, to adapt.

The world of business is dynamic.  Companies that remain static are generally short-lived no matter how successful they may be at a given time.  It is one thing to be first, but it is quite another thing to stay there.  

To many, the “Bowmar Brain” is synonymous with the early pocket electronic calculator.  It was the first.  In the mid-1970s, as the calculator boom was in full swing, Bowmar could not get enough integrated circuit chips from their suppliers and could not keep pace with the marketplace in low cost and new features.  By 1976 the company had gone bankrupt.  Simply put, they were not flexible enough to adapt.  

Ironically, some of Bowmar’s employees saw what was coming, but no one bothered to survey the employees for information.  In hindsight had leaders of the company been astute enough to look within, the results may have been dramatically different.  

What do your employees know about your company that you don’t?   

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