The global economy has been in a poor state since 2008 and it is therefore understandable that most businesses have lowered their expectations on profit and have gone into “survival mode” at the expense of progress. Many businesses have shrunk considerably; economically and in terms of headcount and assets.

The dangers of a slow reaction to an upturn

There is a danger, however, that the actions which you took to ensure that your business did well in an economic downturn become deeply entrenched and can damage your business when the economy improves.

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Almost everybody that you meet will say something like “there aren’t enough hours in the day”. Even high-achievers that get through an amazing amount of work are hungry to achieve more.

For the majority of people, there is a constant battle to remain organised. Interestingly, the increased availability of technology which enables us to get more done, more quickly and wherever we want to work, has done little to stem the feeling that there is too much to do because this technology has raised expectations about how much we should pack into a day.

There is nothing new in time management and getting organised. Everybody knows what to do; they merely lack the discipline to do it.

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If you had to pick one technology that business needs above all others, it is probably email. The value of email grew exponentially when devices were invented that could enable people to receive emails while they were out of the office. (Remember, “push” email was an expression that people once used in the early days. It is now taken for granted).

The undoubted kings of business email on the move were Blackberry. They had great devices, a useable physical keyboard and great reliability. At the height of their powers, they had 50% of the smart phone market. This is now down to 1%.

So what happened to create such a dramatic fall in market share, almost to the point that their very existence is in jeopardy? One word – strategy!

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For more than thirty years the words “middle management” have been anathema to management commentators. With constant talk of “flat structures”, downsizing and the upsurge of technology, it would be easy to infer that all the problems in organisations were caused by a tier of middle management and that the people occupying these positions were somehow harmful to the organisation.

This has always looked to me like a gross over-simplification and misrepresentation of the facts because it ignores the history of why middle management evolved in the first place. Simply put, middle management evolved as companies became larger and there was a need to spread the management word and controls throughout the organisation, which could not be done by a small group of people at the top.

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