Recession Hell Becoming Recovery Fatigue? Answer with Strategy (by @TRethore)

by Tara Rethore on October 31, 2012

Four steps to stay on course for your strategy

FatigueIn 2009, economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that the US recession had ended in June – meaning that’s when the US economy bottomed out and began moving forward again.

Yet today, in 2012, we continue to experience a roller coaster ride of positive and negative economic statistics. Consumer spending continues to stagnate amid high unemployment and business activity shrank in September for the first time since 2009. These reports suggest “it ain’t over”.  After three years of topsy-turvy recovery, people are tired – we’ve moved from recession hell to recovery fatigue.

What can you do to relieve the fatigue and execute strategy better?

One way is to rethink your approach to resourcing. Often in a tight economy, businesses focus on operating results and near-term gains. Instead, linking resources more directly to your business strategy can be an effective tool for execution – even during a dull recovery. How?

  • Embrace the law of supply and demand.

Does your supply equal your demand? Apply that fundamental economic truth to your human capacity and the work. If matching supply (people or other capacity) to your demand is not an option, reframe the question, and…

  • Walk back up to your strategy.

What does success look like – specifically? That’s the demand side of the equation.

Evaluate core programs and major initiatives in the context of your business strategy. Which ones directly contribute to your strategic objectives? How do you know? Which ones indirectly contribute and in what way? For these, what do you need from your people? How many overlaps exist? What are the interdependencies?

  • Align human capacity – and capabilities – to specific objectives.

That’s the supply side. Focus on the things that matter most to your strategy and make it easier for you to execute.  Allocate your resources – and take key operating decisions – based on those strategic priorities.

  • Let go.

Most organizations have more compelling ideas and priorities than they can (or should) fund.

Rather than cramming everything into a business-as-usual bucket, be specific about what you will fund – and staff. Ensure those efforts collectively balance operating imperatives with securing your future. Then, be equally ready to let go of the things you cannot fund – with dollars or people.

Basic economics tells us that supply must equal demand. In real life, that can be easier said than done. Nevertheless, applying the fundamental truth of economics to resourcing can mean the difference between recovery-weary, fatigued employees and lackluster results, and consistent, measured progress in executing your strategy.

Image courtesy of Flickr user misha maslennikov

Tara Rethore
Tara Rethore
is president of M. Beacon Enterprises. For over 20 years, Tara has worked with a variety of organizations to develop and articulate their strategic priorities and plans at multiple levels. She’s adept at breaking down complex concepts into a few, critical themes to shift thinking and deliver results.

In industry and as a consultant, Tara has applied this across a variety of industries, globally, and in mission-driven and for-profit contexts. She knows what it takes to succeed, to execute a strategy, and to go from vision to reality. Tara earned an A.B. cum laude in Economics from Mount Holyoke College and an MBA, International Finance & Strategy, from the University of Chicago. Tara can also be found commenting on business strategy, execution, and results on Twitter.

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