Maintaining Profitability in a Tightening Market

Now is the time to refine operating models

We’ve all read about how the great resignation, the hunt for talent and rising interest rates will put the squeeze on spending and wages growth.

Australia has benefited from cheap money, boundless opportunities and easy profits for a long time. But now the economy is getting tighter, and the good times may be drying up.

The challenge that most organisation now face is how to optimise what they already have. Maintaining or even increasing profitability often demands a good dose of lateral thinking and discipline, and potentially even a few trade-offs.

This doesn’t have to be difficult. Every organisation has a hidden powerhouse that’s often ripe for optimisation. It can be your best friend or worst enemy – it’s your operating framework.

This is how your company is organised to get things done and deliver results. Every organisation, large or small, has a way of operating. Put simply, the better organised you are, the better your outcomes will be.

Digging for gold

Let’s look at an example: Your organisation needs to increase profitability but there’s no easy or quick way to find new revenue sources. Let’s break this down to reveal the power of using operating cadence to elevate performance with your existing resources and sources.

Start with a few questions: What are your revenue drivers? Do you know what factors are the most influential on them? Let’s say you’ve created a driver tree, a simple way to understand how changes to variables will affect your overall business outcomes. This reveals that your lead conversion rate is a major revenue driver.

OK, now let’s review your operations meetings, schedule and agendas and ask a few questions. Does the agenda of your operations meetings align to business objectives and targets? Does it focus on key drivers and influences of performance, as well as the big picture?

How often to you meet to review results? Does this cadence provide the right balance between visibility and time to action? Do you prioritise this meeting or do you allow other business issues to usurp this time? Do you ensure you have a core group of relevant attendees and ensure they send an appropriate delegate if they can’t attend?

How do you know you’re making progress?  Do you have targets for those influencing measures (in this example, the number of leads and their conversion rate)? What data tracks performance and progress towards these targets? If you don’t have the information, do you know how or where to find it?

Does your agenda include time to discuss and analyse your results, or do you just look at the headline numbers? In other words, do you have time to discover why you’re getting results, not just the results themselves?  

When you take actions, are they documented and completed at following meetings? Does the agenda allow time for decisions to be made, problems to be solved and blockages removed?

Do you create time for learning and collaboration?

Opportunity revealed

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, then your operating framework could be improved. Sticking with the earlier example, there’s opportunity to squeeze more revenue from that pool of existing leads before seeking new income streams.

The reality is that this isn’t rocket science. That’s what makes it so exciting.

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear articulates the powerful but simple principle that an action repeated often enough will generate results. I’ve experienced this more times that I can count. The simple act of creating disciplines focussed on key goals and objectives will uplift performance. In most cases, the quality of your actions is less important than the momentum created from doing something regularly and consistently.

It’s not complicated, but it’s also not easy. There will always be distractions. New, shinier, and sexier things will intrude and tempt you to chase them. Remember: the key challenge is to make the most of what you have.

I’ll leave you with three simple but powerful take aways:


Identify the biggest influences over your business outcomes and one or two key drivers for each outcome.


Organise your operating rhythm. Your meeting schedule, agenda and actions should focus on tracking improvements to the key drivers. Asking yourself the questions above can help you create an effective operating rhythm.


Be consistent and persistent with your operating rhythm. Allow time for the habit to be embedded and to generate momentum.

You don’t need to go back to the drawing board to improve business performance. Knowing your core drivers and how to optimise them is the most effective and efficient way to increase revenue and profitability.

We can help your organisation discover the key drivers and design an operating model to optimise them. Get in touch now.


  1. Driver tree article.
  2. “Atomic Habits” – James Clear.
    Published October 16th 2018 by AveryOriginal Title
    Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

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