One Size Does Not Fit All

Listening to the radio the other day, I caught the end of a programme about the civil service and ‘red tape’. The argument was that regulations were not as onerous as most people think they are, and that they benefit the country, on the whole. Michael Heseltine spoke and mentioned that two of our largest industries, the pharmaceutical and defence industries, are the most regulated and yet amongst the most successful sectors of industry.

It made me think. Both industries are very large, and both industries are well documented as able to make massive profits, so the time and effort invested in regulations and processes is well rewarded.

But, does this work for all companies?

This is where the one size does not fit all. I well remember when we ran our large design company and, during a previous economic downturn, we had to take the painful decision to make redundancies.

Prior to this, when this kind of action was required, it was able to be done quickly, minimising the pain to the majority of the staff. New regulations meant that we had to inform the entire workforce in advance of the fact that redundancies were going to happen.

We then had an upsetting time, whilst the staff agonised about who it was going to be, with people coming forward making their case for why it shouldn’t be them. A horrible, demoralising time for all. What might work for a workforce of over 200 people, did not work for an office with 50 people.

One size does not fit all in the world of branding too. I think back to sitting in meetings with slightly bewildered clients, as complicated branding ‘techno jargon’ was uttered and frankly feeling ashamed to have been a part of it. All very well for a savvy brand or marketing manager, but less so for a business owner who perhaps has never employed a design company before, let alone seen a brand dodecahedron.

If you create an ’emperor’s new clothes’ scenario, where the client pretends
to understand because of feeling embarrassed, you have failed, as an uncomfortable client is not the basis for a good relationship.

We are in the business of communication and as such, should ensure that the approach we take suits each individual client, rather than apply a formula to every client, regardless of size or experience.

Custom fit – not one size fits all.

Feeding a Hungry Machine in Difficult Times

They say that in business, to stand still is to go backwards. They also say, if in doubt, do nothing.

In these frightening times of economic downturn, where every positive line of action to protect investments appears to be blocked, I firmly believe that doing nothing is an inherently dangerous course of action to take.

I totally agree with the financial advisers when they say that people should hold onto shares, if they can, until the markets begin their inevitable recovery. I also agree that people shouldn’t sell property for a while, unless absolutely necessary.

As far as the commercial world goes, this, in my opinion, is a time for action. The cake may be smaller but that is a greater incentive to want a bigger slice of it. Most businesses, whether small medium or large have hungry machines to feed, in terms of their staff, premises and equipment costs. Under this kind of pressure, companies will need support, they will need to join forces with ‘like minded’ people and they will need to think laterally about how they stay in business and go forward.

I am not advocating throwing massive budgets at marketing communications but I do feel that, with a little creative thought, companies can open up new opportunities or make more of existing ones.

Business plans are useless if they are written and then confined to a desk drawer to gather dust. What I advocate, is an ‘action plan’ that lives up to its name. A plan that identifies what the company needs to do to feed that hungry machine and to ensure its growth and prosperity. It must have clearly described objectives, action deadlines and clear lines of responsibility for each individual action. Everybody in the business should be encouraged to sign onto the plan and it should be re-visited at regular intervals to ensure that it is being implemented. If the plan is not working – change it.