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The experience of facing crisis…

Before facing the pandemic, we were looking for a solution to climate change.

The planet, we said, is in danger. Our Earth threatened.

Now we see that we are the ones in danger. The earth not only is not ours, but in little more than a month, it begins to show us how it recovers, and in one way or another, it is cleaning and regenerating.

A pandemic, on the other hand not entirely unpredictable, shows us that we have to change.

We have also experienced the lack of knowledge and preparation to face a phenomenon or threat and how we use the resources we have to other things.

That is why we also must learn from this crisis.


I will refer here to a very partial and perhaps small aspect of the crisis that is now expected, an economic crisis and crisis in companies and organizations.

My friend Gilles Lauga[1], a lover of navigation, used a maritime simile, which I would like to reproduce:

The experience of facing the crisis

Are we in a global crisis? The experience of sailing in a stormy environment can make us change course if we want to survive or even emerge stronger. If the environment is stormy and the crisis is global, experience and concentration on strategy and key objectives, may be the most useful.

Get prepared

Never is too late to prepare. The storm will overtake us, and natural optimism is probably not going to help us. This would be the program and the objectives to be achieved:

1. – It’s time to see the weather forecasts and navigation charts.

How safe are we from coastal hazards? Is it still possible to change course and avoid the eye of the storm? How can we use the strong winds and waves to take advantage off?

The route is easier when it is well known or the adequate means are available to indicate alternatives, when the on-board team is well trained and directed.

How about a good browser to be able to consider the options and their consequences?

The bridge must be as clear as possible. Everything must be well coupled. Each one must know their exact role, for which they are responsible and what they need to communicate with the captain.

2. – Put your processes under strict control.

Make sure you’ve held on tight to your most important current customers. This is not the time to lose any. Nor is it the occasion to waste your time and money with a lazy provider or service. You must ensure that each process works perfectly. There are techniques that are properly applied here.

How to ride the waves instead of frontally challenging them every two seconds?

3. – Be sure to maintain good visibility and external communication.

This is not the time to lose your energy, doing too much is as bad as doing too little. You need a good prognosis and you need to plan well to keep it. This saves you from wasting resources. You probably need some realistic alternatives.

There are other techniques to improve your visibility in the environment.

4. – Focus on your strategy

A leader knows his vision and strategy better than anyone as he also knows his strengths. Concentrate on them without deviating. Avoid diversification in this period; instead, make sure your entire team is focused on the heart of your strategy.

There are also techniques and tools to focus on your strategy and bring it up to date, at the right time.

5. – Manage the risk but go for the opportunities.

Now is the time to manage your positioning carefully. Turn opportunities into projects and manage your projects in a professional and excellent way. Learn for risk and opportunity management with tools to manage your projects and programs.

6. – Make sure your staff is a team.

This is not the time to play with the staff. The team is the key, it is stronger than the sum of individuals. The flow of information is vital for everyone: the right message at the right time. Building a strong team must achieve the level of feelings of cohesion, to share goals almost instinctively.

7. – Reconsider competition versus collaboration.

Once the sky clears, it will be time to resume the race. You should be prepared to speed up the activity as soon as possible. Raise your head to anticipate upcoming challenges. This may require alliances.

8. – Repair and reinforce what has been broken.

You need to take advantage of learning and be better prepared for the next crisis. It will be different; it will come from another direction but the same process control will be required.

Maintain good practices: strategic deployment, program management and agility in projects, forecasting demand and ensuring supply, continuous improvement, and above all, maintain team spirit and maintain enthusiasm at its zenith.

We also realize that at the end of the journey, when we have overcome it as true professionals, we are stronger than ever.

A summary of key points for crisis management:

  • A culture of austerity, prioritising expenses and investments, with saving practices that are understandable and accepted by all, managers and employees. Opulence is no longer perceived positively.
  • Not expecting mainly from external aid, help and compensations may arrive, but we should avoid relying on them to continue.
  • The need for competent and capable leaders. If we have the possibility to choose again, let us take it into account. After analysing the organization and behaviour of the positions of responsibility.
  • The importance of good communication, honest and truthful, to align collective actions and as the main tool for leaders to convince. Transparency produces more respect and motivation to demand sacrifices.
  • Inclusive leadership, that is, leadership that includes everyone in decisions and fosters training and teamwork. Recruit to survive. Always focus on strategy and goals.
  • Eliminate the “plugs” in the organization and processes, revealing hidden talent. Empowerment of multidisciplinary teams to eliminate “bottlenecks”
  • A flatter, process-focused organization. The departments are no longer watertight, and the cross processes make easy to row in the same direction. Target projects as a form of organization, if possible.
  • Never forget about liquidity. Debts are a difficult burden to bear. The culture of indebtedness is also in crisis.
  • Loyalty. Pamper key customers, never miss a single one, and treat suppliers as allies. Alliance policies throughout the entire supply chain. Moving from competition to collaboration.
  • Be prepared for many paradigm shifts.
  • Reorder activities to achieve critical mass and bring cost analysis to activity level or even to each order if possible.

[1] Guilles Lauga: in Amazon, in LinkedIn

Author

Francesc Guell is the owner of this site. He was CEO and director of international companies in specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The last 12 years was associated with international consulting groups, providing advice and support to businesses on topics such as innovation and agile innovation processes, operational excellence, knowledge management, change management, strategy and integrated business management. Currently creates and presents courses and workshops on these topics. He graduated as a chemical engineer, postgraduate from ESADE Business School in Business Administration and Master in Knowledge Management. He participated in numerous programs, seminars and ESADE, IESE, EADA, APD and MCE (Management Centre Europe). He is author of articles, presentations and courses on innovation in strategic management, integrated business models, knowledge management, performance measurement, change management and excellence in business processes. See more in: Professional Profile