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It’s Hard to be Bold Right Now
April 15, 2011
Written By: Russell Jensen

This was another Roundtable week, the second week of the month when we facilitate three different Executive Roundtable group sessions.  As we wrapped each of the discussions this week we asked our clients how recent world events (the Arab Spring, the disasters in Japan, rising fuel, food and commodity prices) are impacting their business.  In hindsight we should have asked this question at the beginning of the day; people had a lot to say.

  • One client has had people and operations in Japan, Australia and New Zealand impacted by the natural disasters in those countries.  All their people are safe, but their operations in those countries have been disrupted.  They also cancelled sales events in Egypt and Libya for obvious reasons and are exploring different strategies for those markets going forward.
  • Another client has been unable to find employees willing to travel to Cairo for a project that has already been sold.  Product is packed and waiting to ship and the invoice is aging.

  • A manufacturing client tied to the auto industry is unable to get specific information from a key supplier in Japan.  “Situation does not warrant optimism” is about the best they have so far.  The client has implemented a discretionary spending freeze and is reassigning employees to try to stay ahead of what they expect to be a difficult period.
  • Our insurance industry clients are monitoring their investment portfolios carefully.
  • Our clients in the agricultural and food industries tell us that consumer food prices will continue to rise.  Grocery stores have been absorbing some of the price increases so far and we can’t expect that to last.
  • Fuel prices are hitting some of our clients hard and they are struggling with how to manage costs and what strategies to use to pass along some of those costs to customers.  Our clients are also concerned about the impact rising fuel costs will have on their customers spending decisions.

As one of our client CEOs said to his group, “It’s hard to be bold right now.”

So one learning here is this – do you and your key people adequately understand the impact recent world events are having on your industry, your business and your customers’ businesses?  Are you doing any scenario planning to anticipate their responses?  And what are the opportunities that will present themselves to you?

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