Have you ever been in a situation where you had no idea how you would get out of it?
Back in the mid 80s I borrowed a colleagues long wheelbase Landrover – one of the old aluminium skinned workhorses that had a reputation for going anywhere (I remember an ad with the headline for Range Rover: “It not only says you’ve made it – but that you’ll also make it back.”). I took the truck to a large area that was being cleared for a property development. Clay everywhere. I don’t know how I did it but I managed to get the nose of the truck stuck in a very deep rut. The left rear wheel was hanging in mid air. You could have walked underneath. I didn’t know what to do. I am not much of a driver and my experience off-road was exactly as much as I had chugging around that barren terrain. I briefly contemplated simply abandoning the thing and finding a ride home but that would have gone down like a cup of cold sick with the owner.
I got out, sat on a nearby mound and had a think. Thinking sometimes works better than sitting in the cab bashing the steering wheel and muttering obscenities. I resolved to clamber back aboard. Clunk it into the low gear range – turn the wheel hard in the opposite direction to get new traction and nurse the throttle gently. To my amazement it worked. The truck inched back up the slope and the rear wheel thumped to the ground with so much force I worried that it might break something in the drive train. I was rather pleased with my effort and more than a little relieved – almost wished that I had a companion to verify my account (which I am delivering for the first time – I thought it would be wise not to mention it at the time).
I learned a valuable lesson about problem solving. When you are stuck, take a step back and appraise the situation. This will give you a little perspective. Don’t react to situations in an impulsive or compulsive way.
At the moment I am thinking about the way forward for advertising and marketing communications specialists. Every day there are new challenges. In the United States Google has just launched a new service that could have profound effects on the way that media campaigns are managed. Google offer a tool that allows anyone to book airtime on mainstream broadcast media channels and perform analysis of the audience and effectiveness. I assume Google will receive a commission from the media owners? Once again the giant has created a business model that leaps over the fundamental assumptions of the market. If I was a business like Starcom or Carat I would be worried.
It would be easy to suggest that these disruptive changes can be seen as opportunities, rather than threats. But they are very real threats, especially to business that have overheads that depend on existing revenue streams and existing models. Nimble businesses are going to have an advantage.
Now might be a good time to take a step back and have a think about how we get out of the hole.