Lady Garmin, The Furniture Industry & Leadership

We have one of those GPS units for our car that tells you every turn you need to make to get where you’re going.  We call the voice “Lady Garmin”.  And she works great until you get to a place where the roads have changed and the maps haven’t been updated.  Then you get totally annoyed by Lady Garmin’s incessant “recalculating”.  Business has gotten a lot like this.  A great many of the roadmaps that have been used in the past no longer apply.  And repeatedly “recalculating” doesn’t work either.

I’ve just finished up working with a client in a segment of the furniture industry that represents independent manufacturers and retailers across the nation.  The industry has been hit hard by the three major trends I’ve written about before: Macroeconomics, Globalization and Technology.  Well, actually these three trends are hitting everyone hard.  So hard, in fact, that in many cases the normal business roadmaps no longer apply.

When roadmaps no longer apply, a different kind of leadership is needed.  IBM’s Global CEO study which surveyed over 1500 CEO’s, identified creativity as the #1 leadership competency required for these uncertain times.

I saw this kind of leadership this week: leaders who were willing to admit the old roadmaps were no longer going to get them to the destination they were seeking.  These leaders sifted through the implications of the economic trends, focused on innovative repositioning in the marketplace, and sorted through potential innovations to their business models.  Most of the work was unsettling and vague as they charted a course that hasn’t been trod before; where there were no maps to guide the way.  But one thing was certain.  They weren’t going to just sit there listening to Lady Garmin’s incessant “recalculating” any more.