The Times They Are A-Changin'

The times have changed. It's no longer a seller's market; the buyer is now squarely in the driver's seat.
By Bob Piper, The Talon Group | July 31, 2006

Being an old rocker at heart, I thought of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" while attending a recent Urban Land Institute conference called Developing Master-Planned Communities: Learning from the Experts. Before you decide this correlation was a result of my exercising my elbow during social hour, let me explain.

The times have changed. It's no longer a seller's market; the buyer is now squarely in the driver's seat. The old "build it and they will come" attitude is dead. The general consensus of the experts at the conference is that housing is going to be 10 percent to 15 percent off from last year's mark. In the once-sought-after markets, the decline is closer to 30-plus percent.

Everyone knew this was coming. Many were already strategizing how to manage and respond to the market shift.

During the conference, Gadi Kaufmann, managing director and CEO of Robert Charles Lesser & Co., said what I think sums up what the marching orders should be now and well into the future: success will require "nimble and insightful management teams that can move quickly and wisely as changing market conditions dictate." In moving forward, the companies striving to do more than just tread water will succeed by being flexible, adaptable and intuitive. We must have the correct attitudes and tools to successfully adjust our approaches to the ever-changing market.

So how does a company evoke nimble and insightful management? I'd blend one part analytical thinking skills, one part adaptability and a healthy dash of creativity and self-directed fearlessness.

But, how do we know what to look for? Much like history, past behaviors — both good and bad — often repeat themselves.

To kindle the proactive behaviors and mitigate the bad, start by looking for the students in your company. They are pupils of our industry who don't fall into the rut of just doing the business. These students don't limit themselves to the confines of a job description; they tirelessly focus on improving and growing the business and teaching themselves the skills they need to be innovative.

These valuable employees are often the ones in the meeting who pose ideas that may seem radical for the times. Remember: your business needs that dash of creativity to complete the recipe for success. Your employees, just like your mission, should never see themselves as finished products.

Companies must adopt the courage to be ingenious and create fresh, innovative approaches to swimming — not sinking — during this time of uncertainty.

Author Information
Bob Piper is a founding partner of The Talon Group, a leading executive search firm specializing in the real-estate development and home building industries.


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