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Know where you are headed…particularly in a recession

Yesterday I left work to go to yoga class…and turned the wrong way onto Stange Road. A habit, I make a left turn to go home. I needed to make a right turn to go downtown. I knew where I was headed but momentarily forgot.

That happens at workplaces
Companies and organizations forget where they are headed or worse, don’t know. Lethargy can permeate the organization that lacks goals and clear vision. Insert a strategic inflection point such as a recession and watch the stress build. It erupts in disagreements, unkind words and rumors…a great uncertainty.

In ‘Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Company,’ Andrew Grove of Intel Corporation writes, “A strategic inflection point is when something is changing in a big way, when something is different, yet when you’re so busy trying to survive that the significance of the change only becomes clear in retrospect. The ability to recognize the winds have shifted and to take appropriate action is crucial.”

If you work for an organization that doesn’t know where it’s headed, you need to think about where you are headed.
• Ask your boss how you can best help the organization.
• Figure out how to get along with coworkers and help them.
• Step out of the current fog to look at what you accomplished before this strategic inflection point, what others have done in similar situations so you can try to produce more or better work, be more innovative. Learn from history but don’t be attached to it emotionally.

Grove says your career is literally your business. You own it as a sole proprietor. You have one employee—yourself. You need to accept ownership of your career, your skills, your knowledge and the timing of your moves.

Take a right turn
Grove: Timing means acting when not everything is known. When you’re caught in the turbulence of a strategic inflection point, the sad fact is that instinct and judgment are all you’ve got to guide you.

I think now is the time to build up your company of one, particularly if you work in a paralyzed organization or company. Learn new skills. Seek out information and ideas of what others are doing. And then you can more clearly think about whether you want to stay in your current job after the recession or be poised to seek something new. It will keep you energized and out of the office strife of incivilities.

Andrew S. Grove is currently Senior Advisor at Intel Corporation.
His book ‘Only the Paranoid Survive’ is one of eight in the strategy section of the book ‘The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.’


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