I’m writing this from Melbourne Airport, en route back home to the UK after a great couple of weeks working with some of our Australian customers. Airports make me reflect – they represent endings and beginnings, so it seems like the perfect time to put pen to paper.
One of our major customers in Australia at the moment is Holden cars. Holden are an iconic Australian brand. Founded in 1856, Holden dominated the car market in Australia over the 20th century, with cars that were designed, engineered and manufactured on home soil. However, the Australian car industry has undergone significant change in the last few years. Car production in Australia just isn’t sustainable – a decision all three local car makers came to. A small local market, high cost of production, currency fluctuations and shrinking economies of scale all contributed to making the tough, yet necessary, decision to cease car production.
2017 sees the last of automobile production in Australia as Holden moves into a new era in its history. As part of the GM group, Holden still offer world leading products, but the essence of the business and it’s operations have shifted significantly, and that’s presenting some interesting and exciting challenges for them.
The change mentality
The company has gone through a period of significant change over the past 5 years; it’s no different to many businesses, and particularly some big manufacturing businesses in that respect. For a company with sentimental feelings towards the brand, change is often pretty challenging, for both employees and customers, not least when it means that the business needs to shrink it’s operations and shift it’s fundamental focus.
Ready for the future
Facing up to the reality and staying focused is so important, yet tricky to master. Yet failing to live in the present, and indeed look forward to the future, is fatal for a business that’s struggling to compete and sliding backwards. Focusing on what’s now and what’s to come is not just necessary but essential for survival. From a high performance perspective, the ability to pretty quickly face up to the stark, objective reality, and shift your focus, 100% to being ready to perform, compete and win in the new reality is vital. Nostalgia for the past simply ensures you’re continuing to follow your losing recipe and not focusing on what’d needed right now.
We’re in the trenches
During my time with Holden, I heard lots of language like “we’re in the trenches”, “we’ve got a battle on our hands”, or “we’re under siege”. A battle mentality can be useful – but only if you use it in the right way. A helpful mentality here is all about understanding that it’s tough and there are some challenging conditions as we’re competing here, but that we’re excited about the opportunity ahead, and we’ve got a clear plan that we’re all clear on to take on the battle together.
A mindset of being under siege, but with a focus on the past and how we got here, and just how tough it’s going to be to move on from this, is unhelpful. For some, it scares, demotivates & threatens rather than inspires and galvanizes. It’s not helping create a shared acceptance of where we’re at, but, most importantly, it’s not future focused on where we’re going and what we need to do to be ready to go there.
Flight or fight?
If you’re facing a challenge at the moment – at work, in sport, at home – what battle mentality are you choosing? Stuck in the trenches, wondering how you got here and focusing on the quagmire you’re in? Or with a firm grasp of reality, a united focus on being ready to move out of your trench, feeling excited about the opportunity ahead?
Remember, it starts with a mindset and a focus. And that it’s a choice. What will you choose?