Updated: Nov 13, 2020
During times of dramatic change, crisis and uncertainty,
many times, the organizations that react correctly first
have a HUGE advantage over their competitors.
FINDING WAYS TO WIN in times of change.
Winners do not sit back and wait; they lead their organizations by making plans and taking action. They reject the temptation of reactive managing (sit back and wait). The question is never if they will take action, but they know that what separates the poor, average and great companies is WHEN and HOW they start taking action.
I’m going to do it. I’m really going to talk about the 2020 election, because no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, November 3, 2020 matters to your business. The results of the 2020 elections will dramatically change the market and planning for almost every business across the board. Your goals and strategies need to latch onto the economic and social pulse of today’s world, and that pulse is directly impacted by the vast chasm between the political parties in the USA.
We have 3 options for making plans and taking action:
1) Do nothing and react after an event (in this case, the election)
a. Then start your planning process, get plans approved, and commence action
2) Develop plans for various outcomes and pre-approve each plan
a. After the event, act quickly on the appropriate approved plan
3) Make plans, gain approval and begin taking action before the event
a. Take the appropriate level of action based on
i. the risk that you can/will take
ii. the confidence you have in predicting the end result
HOW TO FIND WAYS TO WIN
Like a sprinter in the 100m dash, reaction time makes an enormous difference in success. During times of dramatic change, crisis and uncertainty, it is generally the organization that reacts first who picks up market share from those who are lagging behind.
Before the 2016 election I was a GM at a service company. On my own, I analyzed and created my own election predictions. I used those predictions to develop strategies and plans, then began implementing those changes BEFORE THE ELECTION. As a result, after the election, our lead time was nearly ZERO. We actually looked forward to that time of change because we were prepared to take full advantage of the result. Our sales skyrocketed because our reaction was set in motion before the sudden change in the market even took place.
While thousands of companies sat back, drinking beer and waiting for results, I predicted that Trump would win, sent the CEO an email in very early October and began implementing changes that helped us prepare our teams, supply and services in anticipation of industries that, sure enough, took off.
We rolled the dice and refocused sales, changed roles internally and dramatically increased our inventory before the election. The company’s sales skyrocketed because we had things in place to capitalize on the changes caused by the election.
Here’s the point: Plan to Win in Business no matter who our next president is. It’s an opportunity to reach the finish line FIRST and take market share from your competitors.
1st STEP: Preemptive Planning
Prepare by assembling a detailed plan before the event happens. You will be out of the blocks, up and running in stride while your competitors are stuck in corporate triage. Just like a chess champion decided long before the game how they would react to various scenarios, you’ll cut through the meetings, discussion, arguments and consensus period by getting it done NOW. Think about COVID. Our modern companies never anticipated anything like that, but they certainly have plans now!
Preemptive planning provides a huge advantage over competitors who wait to start planning or implementing ONLY after the fact. You’re probably thinking, “That’s too easy. Surely companies are smart enough to have made plans.” I’ve been surprised at how many of them don’t. That’s why smart scrappy companies embrace crisis situations. There are a couple of ways to do this. Play it safe and make a plan for multiple outcomes (which I recommend), or roll the dice (if time is too short to plan all cases) and put together a plan for your predicted case.
2nd STEP: Anticipatory Action
Take strategic action based on your plan before the results are fully known. Your level of confidence and willingness to accept risk will dictate how much of your plan you implement before you are 100% certain of your new market landscape (e.g. impact of the 2020 election). Sitting back and chewing your nails until you are 100% certain will result in two potential outcomes:
A) put you behind many of your competitors, which can cause you to lose market share because your competitors are already ramped up.
B) OR it could save you from heading in the wrong direction and wasting time and money like some of your competitors.
Sometimes playing it safer is a really smart idea, but be INTENTIONAL. Do scenario planning, acknowledge what you’re willing to risk and calculate potential costs in revenue and resources. When and how far you proceed before being 100% is the level of risk that you decide to take.
Being Intentional and Strategic in Risk
I’m usually more of a medium risk guy (of course - guided by the data), but I know many who are low and some who don’t bat an eye at a high-risk opportunity. What’s important is to ACKNOWLEDGE your willingness (or ability - financially) to accept risk, OWN your plan and move forward accordingly. Low, medium, or high-risk plans - when executed intelligently - can yield amazing results. Here are your choices as I see them.
LIP – Low risk Investment Plan. Low risk plans include a reaction strategy which prepares the company for monetary investment without making a big leap until event results are known.
Within your spectrum of control (division, region, company, etc.), put things in place or initiate action (start action items – spending time, not investing significant money), so everything is in place the moment that you know.
When the time comes, you are putting your plan into action before other companies have had their first meeting! Interview people, start putting contracts in place but don’t send them out, get new quotes on all materials for higher volumes and from different suppliers, work on new orders and talk with suppliers about potential upcoming orders, anticipate and address bottlenecks for when things take off. It’s like an archer taking his stance, bow in hand, arrow on target, ready to release at any given moment. You basically take everything to the point of spending money (beyond current staffing).
MIP – Medium risk Investment Plan. Complete the steps under LIP, then take things further. Begin moving on lower cost elements or long lead time items (that you know you will eventually sell). Inventory may peak up temporarily, but you will be able to sell it down over time. Some are willing to take this chance because you cannot sell what you do not have. Targeting the very low-cost items (that everyone needs) and the long lead time items (those pieces that are bottlenecks for everyone in your industry) are KEY. The risk is in carrying higher inventory levels, but only for a short time. When you have what people need in order for them to make money, they will come to you and likely stay with you. This is one of the easiest ways to gain market share during a time of dramatic economic growth in your industry. Consumers have to buy from you at this time due to scarcity, which gets you set up in their corporate supply chain database, approved in their system. This is a great way to get your foot in the door. They are the easiest, most productive sales calls that you can do.
Because you made plans and purchased materials before the event or quickly after it happened, you capitalize on shorter lead times. After big surges, the lead times on products go up dramatically. By taking a moderate risk and getting potential hires lined up, you also have access to more staff ASAP and at potentially lower rates, avoiding the labor shortages and higher salary demands of those who start hiring last in a hot market.
HIP – High risk Investment Plan In addition to our previous risk plans, HIP involves putting people and all materials in place so that when the time hits you are running full speed. This sort of planning involves literally rolling the dice and taking a chance on the future. This is a massive advantage if you are right but can obviously cause problems if you are wrong. Think of a hurdler gliding over the first barrier as their competition is still taking off their warmups. Your corporate engine is running on track while others are still reading about it on Google. Imagine being able to advertise that you have their now hard-to-find product on your shelves and a full staff to help. When customers find out that your competitors don’t have product and you do, they will call YOU.
Okay let’s get down to the nitty gritty. At this time in history, America (and the world, for that matter) is filled with a thousand moving parts. This is where it gets fun, and it’s your time to harness this opportunity and WIN.
This is the part where I give a statement that this article is for entertainment purposes only (lol) and you are completely responsible for your own corporate decisions. The following is simply my opinion which in no way constitutes my professional advice about your company without knowing your specific circumstances. My goal is to inspire you to make your own predictions and strategies for your business. If you would like to talk about your situation I would love to help. Now, on to the controversial stuff!
With the differences between the political parties, companies will likely need different plans based on who wins the election, right? At the time I’m writing, it is a little more than 1 month until the U.S. election happens. At this point, I recommend that everyone has 3 plans.
1. If the Republicans control the presidency, Senate, and House.
2. If things remain as they are.
3. If the Democrats control the presidency, Senate, and House.
THE CORPORATE IMPACT OF PRESIDENTAL ELECTIONS
This is absolutely NOT a political post; it’s just an analysis. I’m giving my opinion on which plan you should work on first. Time is short and I should have sent this out a couple of months ago, but I got distracted helping my wife (Kathy) launch her new company.
I am going to share what I believe will happen and the why. If you don’t have time to make all three plans or you want to begin taking action then you need to statistically predict the result. I believe that by looking at past trends and adding in the current unique and changed (since the last election) environment is our best chance to predict the future correctly. Just as I love to use historical data and trends in business, I also like to rely heavily on history in decision making.
I believe that Trump will win, the Senate will remain Republican and the House will swing back to Republican. I will go into detail about why I think this down below. Every company needs to do its own research and determine the likelihood of each outcome before taking action to be a good steward of your available resources (remember the part where I’m in no way responsible for your decisions). In a perfect world, you already have all of your contingency plans completed, and you’re starting to commence some action to take advantage of election results sooner than your competitors. Just in case you have not looked into the upcoming election, I will lay out my thoughts as to why I think the Republicans will end up controlling each area.
REMEMBERING THE LAST ELECTION…
In the last presidential election Trump tweeted and said things that people felt were “unpresidential.” He was behind Clinton by about 10% if I recall correctly. Trump was an unknown and many people were very concerned that he would get emotional and start a war, there was concern about his morals and that he might be a sexiest or racist, he wasn’t an experienced politician and there was doubt he could get things done in Washington. An investigation was taking place alleging that Trump was colluding with the Russians. Trump made promises for a border wall, bringing back manufacturing to the US, and lowering taxes (which most people wanted but didn’t really believe would happen). The Christian community didn’t support him due to his behavior and vowed to vote for “someone other than Trump.” There was yelling, insults and some violence against Trump supporters.
Due to this environment, many people: 1. Did not openly admit that they were going to vote for him (I believe this is why the polls were wrong), 2. Did not vote for him because he made them afraid/nervous so they voted for Clinton, 3. The Bernie supporters who wanted progressive policies (~8%) voted for Trump in an attempt to force the Democratic party to change in the next election [anti-establishment vote]. Results: Trump won.
(Note: In the following, when you see (Biden +) or (Trump +), that means that the particular situation has shifted things slightly in favor of either Trump or Biden. It is not who wins that area, but just how it has changed/shifted since the last election. I am only measuring the changes since 2016.)
FAST FORWARD 4 YEARS
There has been a phenomenal amount of bad press against Trump for 4 years (Biden +). Trump is still sending his famous tweets and making statements, so these situations have not changed (no change, so we consider Biden = Trump). In many of the most recent polls, Trump is only 1%-3% behind Biden (Trump +), and people do not seem concerned about him starting wars any longer. In fact he is pulling some troops back home (Trump +), polls show his support in the minority communities is increasing (Trump +), he is the incumbent and before COVID, the economy grew rapidly and unemployment dropped (Trump +), and the collusion with the Russians was disproven in the Mueller report (Trump +). Many people are getting attacked online and some even losing their jobs for openly supporting Trump (the point here is that less people will admit to supporting Trump in surveys, so Trump +), The border wall is being built and manufacturing is moving back to the US, and a tax cut was approved (Trump +). Trump’s selection of conservative judges, push back against abortion and the openly discussion about God, Jesus and religious faith (“Trump +” from the Christian community, while “Biden +” from non-Christian communities = Overall Trump +), A larger part of Bernie supporters being polled say that they will vote for Trump in an anti-establishment vote to help move the party more progressive in the next election [~15%] (Trump +)
DIFFERENCES FROM THE LAST ELECTION
COVID-19 caused our country many problems (Biden +), Biden selected a minority woman as VP, which will help with minority (Biden +) and female votes (Biden +), the rioting and violent protests across the country have historically favored conservatives in the places where violence occurred (Trump +). The resulting fear/insecurity usually causes more females to vote conservative (Trump +) the impeachment of Trump by the House (recall that Bill Clinton gained many votes because people felt the House’s articles of impeachment were “mean” – big bump). Articles of impeachment were brought against Trump in the house (Trump +), more unclassified documents on the spying by FBI & DOJ (Trump +). The Jewish vote has been heavily in favor of Democrats in the past but now 2 things changed: A) some progressives are making anti-Semitic remarks and B) Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem – I expect a higher percentage of people of Jewish descent to vote Republican (Trump +). The huge surge in gun purchases imply fear and insecurity which usually favor Republicans from past elections (Trump +), the dramatic growth in new movements [walk away, Blexit, militia groups, . . . ] which in many cases are people moving away from Democrats and to the Republicans (Trump +), The decline in left leaning cable news viewers and the increase in viewers on right leaning news [large social media increases] (Trump +), Trump is the incumbent president which is historically a huge benefit (Trump +), School choice (Dems against & Rep for) scores very high in minority communities (Trump + in minority communities), Voter registration has experienced a 5% swing in favor of the Republicans recently (Trump +), the polls after the conventions are moving in favor of Republicans (Trump +), several mayors are switching their support towards Republican (Trump +), the enthusiasm gap of likely voters higher than last election for Republicans (Trump +) In a new Newsweek poll ~2/3 people believe that people are lying to the pollsters (70% Republicans and 60% Democrats – too many severe or negative reactions when people tell who they vote for), along with a huge number of sheriffs and police unions changing parties (Trump +).
TWO HUGE WILD CARDS
First - RBG being replaced on the Supreme Court. If she is not replaced before the election (Biden +), but if she is replaced before the election (Trump +). I assume this swing due to the increased motivation or potential discouragement among Democratic voters. The Senate majority leader said that they will vote before the election à (Trump +).
Second – The 1st presidential debate. If one of the candidates has a very poor showing, then this will have a (+++) in favor of the other candidate. Trump has been getting grilled for the last 5 years and is unlikely to perform poorly or differently from the past (Trump =/+)
MY ELECTION GUESS – based on history, some data, and a gut feel
Here’s my guess: Because of the aforementioned history and the results of most of the special elections across the nation in the last 2 years, I am leaning towards (guessing/anticipating) that every state that was a <=5% loss for Trump vs Clinton will NOW swing to Trump. If so, the electoral college election results would approximate to Biden 186 and Trump 352.
This huge difference is also why I believe that the Senate will remain Republican (my guess is they will pick up at least 2 seats increase [=3]) and the House will flip (uncertain by how much – too many seats for me to look at – if I had to make a huge guess I would say at least a 45 seat swing [=60]). I am only listing the change in the Senate and House, because how parties run the country changes A LOT if you only have a 1 seat advantage verses having a comfortable advantage. The bigger the difference the quicker and more dramatic their changes are.
Our political views and emotions have virtually nothing to do with succeeding in business. We make plans to SUCCEED no matter who wins. When the rules change, champions adapt.
AS CORPORATE LEADERS, OUR JOB IS TO PROTECT:
2. Company’s FINANCES
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS KEY TO GLOBAL BUSINESS
Regarding COVID, TAKE NOTE that that several medicines are looking very promising and 4 different vaccines are supposed to be close to being released (late this year). This will open up the economy very quickly, I am guessing much quicker than we are expecting.
The difficult thing to know is deciding which is larger – pent up demand due to cautious buyers versus lack of spending because so many were unemployed, furloughed or working less hours. I have not analyzed these things and they will play a HUGE role in what happens. This will be a massive factor for businesses going forward.
China is getting hammered by record flooding which is affecting their food supplies, supply chains, raw material transportation and life in general in many of its major cities. China’s devastation could further hinder the supply chain coming to the US for several months.
IS YOUR COMPANY PREPARED FOR POSSIBLE POST ELECTION RIOTS?
Both sides say that the other is cheating. Distrust and suspicion are rampant, and whatever the result, there will likely be violent rioting. We must all make contingency plans for further rioting as the violence may dramatically increase further. I feel that post-election violence is not a matter of if, but rather where, for how long, and how much damage will be done to businesses.
PROTECTING YOUR STAFF AND YOUR COMPANY’S FUTURE
My style of doing business has always been about trust and relationships. I provide a protective shield for my people and it has served me well. They have put their trust in my leadership just as your staff has done for you. I have a great deal of respect for that position. This time in our country is unprecedented and you may strongly disagree with what I have written here, but I HOPE that it inspires you to make your own predictions and start planning right now. Your success depends on it. There is a fine line between doing business defensively and offensively, fear or confidence. Get ready, make plans, and be intentional. Prepare for action. Ascertain your company’s tolerance for risk. Execute the plan.
What will your company look like the day after the election results are finalized? Today’s actions directly impact the future of your business. Step out, gain market share, and be your customer’s best ally. Rise above the fear and emotion of this election and determine to capitalize on the result, whatever happens.
Your company likely needs CPR - Covid Planned Recovery and ALSO a 2020 election response strategy. I would be happy to talk with you about how my CPR process and my other tools can help you find more ways to WIN. I wish you the best and may your work today greatly benefit your profits on November 4th and beyond.
CLOSING THOUGHTS During 2020 election response planning meetings, make sure to lay the groundwork for differing political opinions and emotions. As emotion increases, logic decreases. Because politics are so divisive, do NOT allow anyone to talk negatively about the parties or what they believe. Keep it to the facts and encourage your team to take an outsider perspective, considering history and potential impact.
In business, we are really concerned about the impacts of each party on our bottom line. As individuals, we are concerned about how each party aligns to our personal beliefs, which is difficult to keep out of brainstorming, creativity, problem solving and employee engagement sessions. However, this should be the goal. Use a strong facilitator to run these meetings who is equipped to stop negative, divisive talk and if necessary, remove people from the meeting. Do NOT let political differences destroy a productive meeting that can harm your organization’s bottom line and the financial security of everyone who works for you. November 4th will come, and we have to be ready.