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Stepping out of the patterns built up during the recession to create a new norm which will drive growth
Swings and roundabouts, winners and losers…whatever the cliché used, they all lead towards the simple truth that it is rare to find something which is universally beneficial. We’ve had two powerful reminders of this in recent weeks.
The tumbling price of fuel may be great news for the consumer and for some businesses but it could hit the dividends paid out by oil companies and this may have a knock on effect on pensions and savings. And what about low interest rates. There has been plenty of coverage about how low rates have hit savers but now the Institute of Directors has commented that long term low rates “are a danger to the long-term health of the economy.” Their worry is that households and businesses will see continuing low rates as normal and therefore take on debt which is unsustainable when rates eventually rise.
Seeing low interest rates as normal is not the only trap which could befall post-recessionary businesses. When the recession hit businesses battened down the hatches, adopting working practices which were designed to see them through the hard times. That those practices were, to a greater or lesser extent, successful can be seen by the fact that businesses have survived. But the time of recession is past and those patterns of working need to change.
The norm which served us well throughout the recession is not one which will lead to long term post-recessionary growth. Yes planning for the future needs to take into account variables such as fluctuating interest rates or the cost of fuel but more than that the winners will be those who can adapt to changing conditions. The name of the game now is to innovate, to build employee engagement levels and to align products and services with customer needs.
A post-recessionary recovery should in theory help every business, but it too is a game of winners and losers. Seeing the patterns built up over the last few years as normal will trap the unwary into a pattern of behaviour which won’t resonate with tomorrow’s consumers. Maintaining a culture which is aware, forward thinking and adaptive is the only solution.