Keep The Product Fires Burning
Products don’t exist in a vacuum. They draw their fire from the dynamic interaction of manufacturing, selling, and buying, to say nothing of the economy. When the interaction works well, products thrive. When it doesnt, some die. You know this.
What you may not know–at least, not with certainty–is how to keep products thriving when times are tough.
Calls coming into NUs Products Desk tell me this is a concern for many readers right now, whether from field, home office or other industry sectors. The callers are troubled by announced job cuts at several financial firms (including some major powerhouses), abrupt shutdowns of lines or divisions, more restructuring, and so on.
Its not just bottom-layer shifts that bother them; its cuts at the top, too, and ones nicking friends and associates.
Most blame the economic slowdown, which as you know has been blasting the financial camp for most of this year with bone-chilling winds. They fear the winds may be strong enough to snuff out product fires that have been burning brightly for several years. So, they ask again and again, how do we keep the fires burning?
Its not that they are clueless. Many are pros who have seen downturns before. But this is a new economy, and they are unsure of which remedies to apply. Its doubtful that anyone has a cookie-cutter solution that will work for all, but let’s see if we can find a few ideas–and a little hope.
The way many managers react to downturns is to retrench. They curb perks, salary increases, and new hires. Trim education, training, and R&D. Pare back travel and entertainment. Limit promotions, ads, and outreach.
I doubt anyone would quarrel with the immediacy of the results. You trim the outflow, saving whats left for necessities. The entity gets by.
But if thats all you do, your products and firms can get dangerously thin. You may cut out not just fat, but also some muscle.
By contrast, financial firms that ride the economic waves successfully use sales downturns as points of growth, not decay. They may cut back in one area, but they work tirelessly to renew and/or conceive new products and services in other areas.