Skinning a Cat

By Ann Elliott

Knowing how to skin a cat and other new skills is a good idea….today. You probably thought you would never need to know how to skin a cat differently.  You may have even thought you knew all there was to know about running a successful business only to discover things changed right before your very eyes. They changed quickly, too. Your operating methods that you have used successfully in the past will continue to work.  Well, perhaps.  In the words of the venerable Yogi Berra, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” kitty The landscape is different. The species on the planet that have survived have been able to adapt to change.  “It’s not the strongest of the species, or the most intelligent, that survive; it’s the ones most responsive to change” is a quote often attributed to Charles Darwin. Leaders who are resourceful and who expect their people to be resourceful have the best opportunity to survive, sustain, and succeed.  Using “ingenious and enterprising” as the definition of resourceful, how do you and your business measure up? Skinning a cat only one way includes these pitfalls:
  1. Believing your way is the only right way
  2. New thinking is discouraged and unrewarded
  3. Working harder and longer does not improve results
  4. Creative options are viewed as impossible
  5. Simple solutions meet disdain because of their simplicity
  6. Past successes cloud current reality
Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment” suggests Rumi, thirteenth century poet.   With a mind open to all possibilities and attached to nothing, what could you do in your business to move through these interesting and historic times? The following guidelines are worth considering: Do something daring, drastic and different.  Rethink your acceptable profit margin today.  Would you rather be entrenched in a mindset or would you rather stay in business to work another day? Offer products and services that serve your customers where they are. Remember the playing field for them has changed, too. Create alliances with complementary businesses. The alliance is greater than the sum of its participants. Dispel the mental myth that we are separate and independent. The current world economy has confirmed we are ALL connected.  We are connected at the local and global level.  As Thomas Friedman writes, “The world is flat.” Be willing to make hard choices that you would have never considered previously.  For some that might be taking another job.  For others it could mean firing a loyal employee because he could not change to meet today’s requirements. Find new ways to operate your business. Small changes can make big differences.  Viable options can be hiding in plain sight. Brilliant ideas can come from unlikely sources. Telling observations from a team of successful partners: Recently I was having lunch with the senior leadership team of a successful business that prides itself on loyalty to employees.  They have an extraordinary 95% retention rate for customers.  Clearly they are doing many things well.  Even in a contracted economy they are having a profitable year. I asked what they were seeing with their customers in their respective businesses.  They told me that their customers are paying closer attention to how they run their business.  They are taking steps to minimize waste, improve efficiencies, spend wisely, provide excellent customer service and fine tune systems and procedures. Before the downturn, these same businesses didn’t take the time or see the necessity for minding the store.  Running their business on purpose has become very important and will help determine whether the business lives to tell the tale. The cat’s out of the bag and there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There is no substitute for running your business on purpose with new strategies and creative ideas that are appropriate for today’s reality.

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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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