Seasons

Although it rarely feels like it in September in Texas, yesterday was the start of Fall, my favorite season of the year. I love the cooler weather, caramel and peppermint and pumpkin spice everything, and the three-month rush of joy and anticipation of the holidays and gatherings with family and friends.

All of this made me think of a dear friend with whom I often discuss how various aspects of our lives go through “seasons”, too. As do our businesses and strategies.

At the risk of being patronizing, let’s quickly define the four seasons to ensure we start from the same place:

  • Spring: re-birth, new life, growth, optimism, opportunity
  • Summer: vitality, living to the fullest, maximum value and returns
  • Fall: waning, shorter lifespan, quieter, squeezing a little more out (daylight, for example)
  • Winter: endings, cutting back and pruning, letting go, finding new ways forward

Various aspects of our lives go through each of these seasons all the time: friendships, favorite books, music, movies and TV, workout routines, diets, community activities, spiritual growth, and so on.

Our business strategies, processes, products and services, resources (including people), and even whole business lines or businesses go through these seasons, too. We must stop to recognize the seasons these various parts of our lives and work are in to match our strategy and work style for optimal results.

For example, a new product in Spring has just launched. There is excitement and energy around it, and we expect fast growth and significant returns. We invest heavy energy, marketing and promotion, and other resources into the product’s launch and initial growth.

An employee who has exceeded all expectation, moved into a position of significant importance, and is contributing tremendous quantitative and qualitative value is in Summer. We ride the wave, basking in seeing someone we brought to the team succeed, reinforcing the great work she is doing, and praising him for a job well done.

A facility with an upcoming lease renewal that needs significant equipment repairs may be in Fall. Tough choices need to be made about how much more daylight can be squeezed out of the space, and whether it makes sense to renew the lease.

A five-year old strategic plan likely finds itself in Winter. It’s frozen in time in a world that has likely changed. It needs to be pruned so the best parts get incorporated into a new plan and direction for success.

Each season requires a different approach to ensure success, but they all require awareness. This is all just fundamental strategy, no different than the classic Boston Consulting Group product portfolio matrix. It bears repeating and re-iterating, though, because our lives and work really do go through seasons that require us to stop and change direction.

Those who fail to do so face long, dark Winters. Those who embrace Fall face the opportunity to change proactively, survive harsh Winters, and enjoy the first fruits of Spring.

Cheers to Fall!

 

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Craig A. Escamilla
Craig A. Escamilla
Craig Escamilla helps you find solutions before problems exist. With fifteen years of consulting, teaching, and senior management experience, Craig brings a wealth of practical expertise to helping others work on rather than in their businesses.

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