Daily Inspiration: “Stop recessionating. Start growthinating!”


“Stop recessionating. Start growthinating!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

Since this is my Daily Inspiration on my blog, I get to make up words. So I did!

Enough of this recession talk already – its’ self-defeating. We’re already in one – and by the time you and others finish debating that fact, smart folks will have long moved on and will be focused on opportunities and capitalizing on the future.

They’ll be growthinating, not recessionating.

In fact, they’re doing it right now. Mindset matters – do you want to kill your initiatives with doom and gloom, or do you want to mve on to the inevitable recovery already?

I’ve long been in the right mindset. When the global economic recession that followed the financial collapse of 2008 was underway, Business Week ran an article,  “10 Worst Innovation Mistakes in a Recession.” I took exception to the article, since while it’s easy to point out mistakes, it can be harder to indicate what you should be doing. At the time, I was already rapidly adjusting my theme to one of “how you can innovate during a recession.” In other words, how do you growthinate, not recessionate?

Much of what I was talking at the time about resulted from the opportunity I was already seeing firsthand among numerous innovative strategies from the CEOs of my clients. I kept modifying my message at a rapid speed to incorporate a vast variety of ideas from these and other sources. So in response to the Business Week article, I posted a comment on the article, noting that they should provide some ideas, not just a list of mistakes. This is what I wrote:

  1. Focus your team — relentlessly — on growth. Early in 2009, I keynoted a global food organization in Las Vegas. The CEO was on stage before me — and spoke about the recession for about one minute. He then spent 19 minutes speaking about the growth opportunities that the organization could pursue by moving beyond a recessionary focus. That’s what everyone needs to do right now. There are growth opportunities in every industry. Focus on them!
  2. Respond faster. When I keynoted a food industry summit in New York at the start of the recession, we spoke of the need to respond faster to the fact that consumer preferences were changing more rapidly than ever before. More people eating at home, sensitive to dollars, and looking for food comfort. Reformulate new brand and product options faster. Just do it. Don’t study — do.
  3. Invest in the brand. Brands can become weaker in a recession, particularly as consumers scramble for value. Decide where you want to reposition your product/brand, and act fast to do it rather than studying it to death.
  4. Mix it up. Don’t assume that what worked before the recession will work now. Try out a lot of ideas, particularly around value. “I’m experimenting rapidly with price points and product mix.”
  5. Invest in experience. Lots of your staff will be down in the dumps and are spinning their wheels. Get a message out that NOW is the time to invest in new ideas, experiences, and activities. Try things out, to build up the collective experience of your team.
  6. Kill off the innovation killers. Reframe your team, so that they are thinking “what a great idea,” rather than viewing with suspicion any new ideas. Remember — everyone is worried about being laid off, and paranoia sucks the life out of innovation faster than anything else.
  7. Collaborate within the industry. When I keynoted the American Nursery and Landscape Association in the early stages of the downturn, I stood in awe of the blog they were running that was offering practical, on-the-ground, easy-to-implement ideas that retailers could put into their stores NOW.
  8. Seek ideas. Go knowledge farming once a day, looking for ideas on customer service, operations, IT strategies, and just about anything else. There’s a flood of ideas out there — now’s a great time to chase them down and do things.
  9. Partner up. Sure, resources are scarcer during a recession. That’s why you can speed up innovation with anything — from advertising to customer service, business model implementation, IT strategy, opportunities for operational excellence, or just about anything else — by seeking partners to help you out. That will help you achieve key goals faster.
  10. Get over it. Lots of organizations are still stuck in the anger and denial phase of the Seven Steps of Economic Grief. Make a decision to get into the acceptance stage, and move on. This will recession will pass, just like every other one.

The question really comes down to this – when do you innovate? I took that head on in this clip from 2009.

Get growthinating – do it now!


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.