• stevekazan8

Surviving Your Business Tsunamis

Updated: Mar 17


International businesses coming to America face threats and obstacles, seen and unseen. This series of five blogs discusses unseen management challenges that face all kinds of companies, young and old. Inner Onion helps its clients foresee business tsunami’s and ride them out to successful conclusions.

Our great thanks to Janet Gregory for sharing her wisdom and providing advice to seeing warning signs and what to do about them. She's a tsunami surfer - big time.

Blog #1: Business Tsunami Warning Sirens

Are you in the midst of business tsunami? Tsunamis are giant waves. Their arrival is usually unexpected, with little or no warning. Business tsunamis have definite warning signs. If you listen for the warning sirens, you can avoid their destruction or ride them out to career success.

Foundationally, five essential elements exist in every business: performance, productivity, innovation, transformation, and ecosystem. When all of these are in motion – tugging, dragging, pushing and rushing each other – business grows successfully. When motion ceases or there is an attack on any one of these elements, growth slows, and the business tsunami builds strength.

This five-dimensional reality is a mash up of my experience and the wisdom of Geoffrey Moore's "Zone to Win" and Clay Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma”. Rate these essential elements in your business, your department, and your team (and yourself!). Every department and team have responsibility for all five dimensions, with a primary focus on one or more.

  • Performance should be accelerating, with competitive balance.

  • Productivity builds efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance.

  • Innovation creates new things, yet untested and unproven. Innovation can be sustaining or disruptive.

  • Transformation evolves, alters, and improves process and procedure.

  • Ecosystem looks at participation on every level: supplier, partner, producer, buyer, and user, both inside the company and outside.

Here’s an example of the priority of these five elements within business suites of a technology company. Define and rate them specific to your company or industry.

  • R&D / Engineering: Prime focus on innovation, especially disruptive innovation, with secondary focus on transformation and productivity.

  • Operations / Production: Main emphasis on productivity with ecosystem, the supply chain, coming right behind.

  • Sales / Marketing: No surprise that performance is center stage with transformation (adaptability) and Ecosystem, the distribution chain, in lock step.

  • Accounting / Finance: Company performance is the spotlight, with productivity as supporting cast.

  • Human Resources / Administration: Central to keeping people and process up with and ahead of the industry is transformation in the #1 spot along with sustaining innovation as second place.

  • Customer Service: The ecosystem of users, customers, and support system are their prime emphasis, bettering performance and transformation for them.

  • IT: Has productivity as the heartbeat, with performance coursing through its veins.

When there are departmental stove pipes or unhealthy competition between business suites it is because the departments have built barriers in the internal ecosystem, between themselves.

Another example, a turnaround business I joined was lagging in nearly every one of these elements and investors were NOT happy. We were brutally honest with ourselves and our partners. We cut expenses and business performance looked better, but as the CEO wisely said: “you cannot save your way to profitability.” So, we pushed the incubation and ecosystem accelerators: developed new products for customers and invested in the partner ecosystem.

If your people feel like your business is in a tsunami, that’s because one or more of the elements in your five-dimensional reality are underperforming. Perhaps they see the warning signs before you do. The health of this five-dimensional reality is the early warning mechanism for recognizing if you and your business can successfully ride out your business tsunami.

Blog suggested by Inner Onion’s Steve Kazan and authored by Janet A. Gregory. Want to know more? Stay tuned.

Janet Gregory is a Silicon Valley veteran combining corporate, start up, and consulting experience in her bag of tricks. Thanks to Wikipedia for the images.

Inner Onion is a business consultancy whose goal is to bring international companies to the United State. More info is available at

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