Economies that scale and shape-shift

I read a great opinion piece yesterday in The Wall Street Journal online titled There Is No 'The Economy'. I agree with much of what Zachary presents in the article, because:

In truth, what used to be "the economy" is just one part of a global chess board, and the data we have is incomplete, misleading, and simultaneously right and wrong. It is right given what it measures, and wrong given what most people conclude on the basis of it.

The world is composed of hundreds of economies that interact with one another in unpredictable and unexpected ways. We cling to the notion of one economy because it creates an illusion of shared experiences. As comforting as that illusion is, it will not restore a simplicity that no longer exists, and clinging to it will not lead to viable solutions for pressing problems.

There's no denying that the "global economy" is changing and many aspects of it are depressing (and many aspects are silver linings as well). All of us know of friends and/or family who are struggling because they're out of work, or because of skyrocketing fuel and food prices, or because of homes that have lost value when the mortgages have not, or whatever the situation. And sadly in organizations, HR and marketing are always two areas companies slash and burn when the economics of the day are as fuzzy as they are now.

We know firsthand what happens where HR suppliers kill or reduce their marketing activities because of budgetary issues or because they feel they have enough leads to carry them through the storm. Any company of any size that thinks that by shutting down their marketing machine – their lead gen lifeblood – that they can turn it back on quickly at any time, and that their competition will be courteous enough not to take advantage of that.

We worked with a great firm recently that increased their visibility and lead gen tenfold over a period of a few months with content and conversational marketing and PR, and then they decided that they had enough leads and visibility and that they should cool their jets in order to close some new business.

But then they decided to invest in local yellow page advertising and nothing else for awhile. Really? What the --?

And when it comes to HR budgets, SystematicHR commented nicely that topic:

The problem with recessions and HR is that HR budgets often take longer to come back than other budgets. Take 2001 as an example. The "bubble" burst with such ferocity that when the economy did get better, budgets went to core business critical functions first – they had to catch up. It was possibly 2-3 years later before HR budgets started looking up again, and by 2004, HR spending on technology was on the rise again. But this is after 3-4 years of deferred maintenance.

There is more on the line with this turn of recession budgets than a few upgrades. If we defer talent management initiatives and spending because we just don't have the money, we're going to find ourselves not a couple years behind, but perhaps irrecoverably behind.

Unfortunately we run into this mindset again and again regardless of the "economies that scale and shape-shift". C'mon folks, don't throw in the towel just yet. Scale yourselves in your marketing and HR initiatives and do more than just stay alive.

Post by Kevin Grossman

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