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3 Steps You Can Take Before You Take Action

Some years ago during an economic adjustment I wrote an article about the importance of being clear on the steps you need to take to figure out what to do next, to solve business problems and 3110608108_3dce4e0981_ofind opportunities. I think it is especially important to look at those steps again as we wrestle with a significant portion of our economy going through adjustments. As a strategic planner I find that the simplest approach can be the most fruitful.

I think in times of adjustment we need to apply a grade school life lesson. That is to say, stop and look both ways before you cross the street; use your eyes, use your ears and then use your feet. It often amazes me that what we learned as children applies to our adult lives and in business. Your job as a business leader and professional or even an entrepreneur is to minimize your risk through gathering and documenting information about your economic and customer’s needs. There is nothing worse than offering a service, product or a solution that does not fit the requirements and no-one cares about. Or even looking for an opportunity where on no longer exists. It could be like getting hit by a car when crossing the street. Hopefully the damage is not too bad but you can lose everything.

So, what do we do to avoid the accident, to move on or get out of the way? Stop and use your eyes, use your ears and then use your feet.

First, use your eyes. Observation is a great information gathering technique used to learn about your customer and clients needs or about the greater needs of the economy. For example from a sales and marketing perspective think about where your customers hang out, how they do their work and what is important to them. Observe your clients and customers in their unique gathering places (UGP). This could be at their offices, professional associations, their local church, personal interest and fitness clubs, at business centres and other organizations. Go to where your customers hang out and observe their behaviours. You will learn a lot.

Second, use your ears. Use active listening techniques to hear what your people are saying. Always look for the need and address it with your customers. Listen for the issues and objections. Think from the perspective of the WII-FM radio station (What is in it for me?). This is the Voice of the Customer (VoC) speaking. Capture that information and be honest with the information. In other words, do not write down what you thought you heard, write down and summarize what was actually said. Create a summary of findings and share it with your prospective customers or clients as a value added for them. Show them that you were listening.

Third, use your feet. Give what you learned some thought and put it into action. Use the information to find opportunities internally or externally, improve processes, help people out, make changes, provide alternative solutions to business problems, to create communication and marketing materials, for product or service branding or to develop enhanced skills and change programs.  Leverage the information as much as possible. Turn that information into business solutions and building opportunities through taking action and aligning it to common business objectives and the things people, your customers and clients need.

Even after writing and updating this blog I am amazed at how many places I can think to apply this grade school rule for crossing the street. Front the start of a new business, looking for a career position, researching solutions to business problems to sales and marketing, succession and human resource plans and the list goes on. Sometimes I think the simple rules and approaches to complex issues or challenges are the best.

The willingness to stop and take three simple steps, that we learned in grade school, can help us during economic adjustments and keep us safe when crossing the street (eyes, ears and feet). It is just a matter of how you act upon what you know.  So when you need to do something remember use your eyes, use your ears and then use your feet. Of course walk but don’t run as we don’t want anyone to get hurt.

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Richard Lannon
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