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Change or Die: A Cautionary Tale

March 13, 2012

By John Munce, Relationship Executive, The Tatham Group

My friend Sam’s heart attack laid him low enough that he actually listened to the doctor.  The words were simple.  Change how you live or expect to die before age 50.  He grabbed the whole program and the result was dramatic.  I call that the health bankruptcy conversation.

When companies go bankrupt all sorts of changes get embraced because otherwise they die.  The doctor has the same stark conversation.  Everyone focuses on cash.  Reduce what’s going out.  Increase cash coming in.  Do everything to keep those customers.

We saw this play out when GM and Chrysler were bailed out.  They took actions discussed for years; actions needed for years.  It appears to have worked.  Customers are coming back.

Does it take a corporate heart attack to get a company to change?

Ford did not need a bailout.  They had begun a program in 2006 at the peak of the good times.  Their story holds clues for how to get a 100-year old behemoth to change. Check out the official video clip called Change or Die.

I say their story holds clues because each company, like each person, will have to find its own way.  I would never want to copy Sam’s heart attack in order to discover what changes I need to make.  Slavish copying won’t work.