Frequently, potential adversaries position themselves to be able to take advantage of choke points.
A choke point is an upcoming important event that, if delayed or thwarted, will have negative impact upon your company’s growth, marketing, M&A or financial plans.
People who have grievances against your company will “stalk” you. They accumulate pieces of information and gossip from ex employees, current employees, vendors and others with whom you and they deal.
The scenarios in which these tidbits of information arise and are floated casually beyond the confines of your company’s offices are legion. Your marketing and sales reps hear things in the office that become common gossip. If there are those in your company who are not liked, stories about them spread rapidly. People who are “let go” talk openly about most things they know about, and non disclosure agreements somehow do not cover conversations in bars. That isn’t true, but people don’t think of the NDA they signed during drinks and dinner.
The point is that much of what you think is confidential isn’t.
If you are in a business in which there are natural abrasive interfaces between you and many with whom you deal, like franchising for example, or luxury goods in a changing market, there is a river of potentially adverse information about the goings on in your company that flows out the door every day.
If you are in a business in which you make profits more easily than those who do business with you; or are able to impose very advantageous terms of dealing on them, you have people just waiting to renegotiate the relationship under circumstances in which they have short term leverage opportunities.
If they have astute legal representation, you can expect that in any choke point moment, they may pounce. Their ability to blow up a merger or acquisition is a delicious asset. Their ability to blow up an IPO or refinancing of your debt structure makes them drool.
How can you spot this impending difficulty? Often, even though you know these ingredients are simmering, it is impossible to gauge whether they will choose this sensitive moment to strike.
If this chemistry does exist in your business life, you may be well served by giving some thought to how to stave off or blunt an assault on you at an exquisite moment. Some well timed affirmative action calculated to create a glint of optimism often works wonders.
Whenever you contemplate a choke point event, this extraordinary and almost never done kind of “due diligence” should be included in your action plans.