The world is anxious. The economy is nervous. Families are stressed. The unemployed are looking for jobs; the employed are looking over their shoulders. What in the world are we going to do?
Psychologists refer to long, ongoing, challenging life events as examples of chronic stress. Unlike acute stress, the type of stress that is experienced quickly (like a spilled cup of coffee), chronically stressful situations in life often include uncertainty, potential negative future outcomes, anxiety, and possibly depression. To what degree and extent America and the rest of the world are experiencing chronic stress, and whether it enters into our day-to-day meaning making, can only be speculated at this point ? but it sure seems likely it played a pretty big role.
The best medicine for chronic stress is human control, something all people strive for in life. We like when our lives are in order, our patterns fairly predictable, and our spirits high. Unfortunately, chronic stress challenges our sense of personal control, often leading to a host of anxiety symptoms. When we are able to regain a sense of control of the situation our anxiety lessens; and when we allow uncertainty to dominate our thinking we experience anxiety. If world affairs are weighing heavily on our collective minds, the uncertainty associated with the future may prompt us to step away from the present sources of our insecurity to adequately prepare for a difficult situation ahead.
What can a business do?
One thing we can do is recognize this is more than a matter of orientation; it?s a matter of view, like looking through the rear view mirror, or looking out the front windshield.
It?s more than a shift from adding to an overwhelming supply of actions to wetting the appetites of customer who will demand more of what is supplied.
It?s moving from immersion into what people want to the emergence of what they value. By that I mean that the first key to becoming emergent is to understand what demand exists for it and, only then create a differentiated supply that satisfies people more completely than anyone else. The way you do this is to compete on value-added differentiation rather than price.
Value increases one of two ways: you either increase benefits or lower price. The emergent strategist tries to increase benefits in ways that create value for targeted segments of people, while the product strategist will try to create more value by increasing price.
Emergent strategies attempt to understand before creating supply. By understanding the people you want to serve and make happy, you are better able to plan and produce products that are sharply differentiated or scarce, which earn you higher prices and profits. Once you satisfy demand more dynamically than your competition, you have more control over price, and that ultimately, will increase profitability and growth: you compete on products, goods and services but you win on emergent demands.
Your stress may not completely resolve itself, but creating choices are critical to your managing it. It?s also critical for another reason: you can do or engage in business the same way by creating business economies that look namely at creating large amounts of goods and services as efficiently as possible, or you better understand the emergent demands in a market before you create a supply of goods and services.
In the end, managing your business like managing your stress is within your control.