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When enduring a business crisis, a focus on fundamentals and an obsession with forward visibility of the business are mandatory. You must increase communication with your customers, suppliers and employees to attain the business intelligence you need to make sound decisions. Your employees, shareholders and suppliers also require a high level of attention. They seek calm, honest communication and affirmation that you value their relationship.

These basics require extraordinary mental, emotional and spiritual efforts, but you must do even more. Look beyond the uncertainties of the moment and point the way to the success beyond the storm.

These four ideas can help set your course:

  1. Embrace unconventional ideas.
  2. Pivot your business model to new opportunities.
  3. Empower small work groups to act.
  4. Maintain research and development (R&D) initiatives to leapfrog competition.

Embrace Unconventional Ideas
Unconventional ideas in unconventional circumstances can open new paths that may have been previously closed. Keep your ears and mind open and curious—embracing ideas from all. In times of crisis, concerned team members may rise to the challenge, offering solutions and proactive thinking. Encourage and reward boldness and creativity. Seek out contrarian thinkers and challenge them to provide unique concepts and solutions.

Pivot Your Business Model to New Opportunities
Adapt your business to overcome new obstacles. Actions that may have been previously considered high risk now may be the path to survival and growth. Quick and decisive action that leads to new products and services may position you for profitability and help raise revenue to keep you from exhausting your resources. You can dig in your heels and risk decline or face the hardships of change head-on.

Empower Small Work Groups to Act
Authorize small, agile work groups to move with speed on new and existing critical initiatives. It’s up to you to knock down barriers and bestow responsibility and accountability on those emerging leaders willing to passionately accept new assignments. Share your business knowledge and vision with these small multidisciplinary teams. Encourage swift and decisive action when developing products or services to meet the needs of emerging conditions. Knowledge added to accountability and multiplied by your trust will boost empowerment.

Maintain R&D Initiatives to Leapfrog Competition
Keep your competitive edge by maintaining a strong R&D program. Innovative new products and services will help differentiate you from your competition. Be sure to balance bold action with the company’s long-term health.

During the Great Recession, there were companies that locked down expenses, reduced purchase orders and restricted cash flow. They made tough decisions that hurt the head and heart, including dismissing valued employees on the basis of need versus tenure. But some didn’t eliminate key engineers, consultants and manufacturing initiatives dedicated to new products that would revolutionize their position in the marketplace. This strategic vision led to high growth and increased transferable value for some. While some competitors halted their R&D efforts, the visionary companies demonstrated foresight and follow-through to emerge as the technological market leaders.

Times of crisis are filled with uncertainties. These uncertainties and lack of norms create fear. Fear can be useful to motivate teams with urgency. Unfortunately, it also breeds anxiety, which immobilizes and constrain productivity.

When you listen, lean forward; when you walk, lift your shoulders and smile and when you speak, keep your team in mind. Your employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders are observing you. Your discipline and decisive action demonstrate your commitment to addressing reality. Your forward thinking and desire for a robust future instills confidence and motivates your team to action.

Address reality and lead to the future.

If you have questions on this topic, reach out to your BKD Trusted Advisor™ or submit the Contact Us form below.

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