A few years back, a friend of mine was laid off from his high paying corporate job. Prior to this, he was living the good life, as they say. A very expensive home, a new luxury car, vacations to the best places, and it seemed as if my friend had money growing on trees. I was very happy for him.
Because he was a go-getter, he had climbed the corporate ladder quickly, he never settled for anything less than being the best. He enjoyed playing corporate politics and found allegiances in the organization that assisted him in his progression.
But, as my friend was heading for a very prestigious position in the organization, reports of company problems began to surface in the news papers and news channels. Stock prices began to decline. I assumed my friend was going to be okay considering his lifestyle and his aggressiveness.
A few months after I had heard the reports of the company financial problems, my friend called and asked me if I knew of any jobs out there for him. I was surprised to hear that he had been laid off with two weeks severance pay. Unfortunately, he was more surprised than I was. He said “it was a complete shock to him” and that he “never saw it coming.”
This really surprised me. I wasn’t an employee of this organization and yet I read the paper and watched the news and heard months prior to his layoff that the company was struggling. Two questions went through my mind.
Could the signs of impending layoffs have been out there for my friend to pay attention to? If the signs were there, what could my friend have done about it? The bottom line was, my friend was out of a job and according to his admission, he never saw it coming.
In CMOE’s workshop on Applied Strategic Thinking, we discuss the importance of being able to manage the stumbling blocks that may appear in the future. The ability to navigate through future impediments is critical to any successful strategy. The most important aspects of the navigation is gathering intelligence and then the expertise to scan the environment and analyze what could help or hinder future success.
Additionally, having the ability to sort through clutter and use information that can lead to proper action is vital. I believe that if my friend had spent a short amount of time looking at the intelligence available months before, he may have been able to ask questions that could have prepared him for the job loss. More importantly, he would have been able to plan and prepare in the event that his job was eliminated.
There is no question that when you ask yourself better questions you are going to get better answers. The same exists with intelligence. The better you are at intelligence gathering, the more informed you are. Establishing regular intelligence gathering better prepares you for the future and helps you anticipate trends and patterns that exist, or will exist.