Are you significant? Are you relevant? I don’t mean these questions in some sort of cosmic, or existential sort of way. I am sure that to yourself, your family and friends, you are. At least I hope you are. I mean are you significant and / or relevant on the professional level to you individually, and also on the greater level to the business you create or lead.
Let’s say you lead an organization that is responsible for $25 Million in revenue. If the entire revenue of the business is $25 Million, then you are obviously extremely significant. If the entire revenue of the business is $1 Billion, then potentially, at only 2.5% of total revenues, you may not be very significant.
On the other hand, if the total earnings for the 1$ Billion business is only $10 Million, and your $25 Million revenue organization is responsible for $10 Million in earnings, you could be very significant, depending on the earnings and losses of the other organizations within the business. As you can see, there may be no hard and fast rules regarding significance and relevance for a business.
There may however be some indications about an organization’s significance and relevance to the business. What is the revenue trend? Is it up, down or flat? Upward revenue trending businesses are naturally more relevant as business growth is always a focus. What is the earnings trend in both real dollars and as a percentage of revenue? Of the two, real dollars are usually more important, but businesses like to see both earnings dollars and percentage of revenue on an upward trend.
As you can see, significance and relevance in business is usually measured with a number, and the number usually has a “$” sign in front of it.
Now there are some “significant” businesses that may not meet this acid test. These are organizations that are usually deemed either “strategic” or “investment” organizations. That means that the business is putting resources into these organizations with the expectation that they will become significant and relevant quickly. Usually very quickly.
With the increased demand for and the decreased supply of resources (money, time, people) in the business, strategic and investment organizations are becoming rarer, and those that do exist are having greater demands for more significant performance faster. As the owners of the business (Stockholders, either private or public) demand better performance, so must this be translated into increased demands on each of the business’s organizations for increased and faster improvements in their performance.
Now with all this in place, what do you do when you find yourself in an organization that seems to be neither Relevant nor Strategic to the business?
There are several paths that can be taken in this instance. The choice can depend on personal preference and personality, assessment of the overall business, and the willingness of the individual and organization to accept change. I won’t go into great detail here. I will leave that to the next Blog article, but the basic responses to being in an irrelevant or non-strategic organization are:
- Move to a new organization that meets the requirements of either a Relevant or Strategic organization.
- Accept the organizations status within the business and work to make it successful within the bounds and expectations associated with that status.
- Make the changes required to make the existing organization relevant. This can include changes to products, people and processes. This would include making the required changes needed to make the organization relevant on either the Revenue or Earnings level, or moving it into a strategic role.
I have always tried to be a change agent within the organizations that I have been associated with, so you can suspect what choices I have made in the past. I will look at those options, and others in the next article.