I'm not sure if it's the same for you, but I'm finding it really hard to pick how things are going to unfold at the moment. On the one hand, we have the US Government trying to make available some $800 billion in bailout funds, and on the other, here in Australia, we're expected to come out of these times considerably better than most.
I was thinking about things, as you do every now and again, and I remember saying to myself, "This is very similar to the "dot com" bust. Maybe not the cause, but the effects are very similar."
At the same time, I was sorting through documentation that I'd collected over the last several years â€“ in readiness for our office move. I came across a very interesting article that had an influence on what we did back then and thought I'd share it with you. Who knows? There might be something in it for you as well.
This article (Fast Talk: Smarter Moves for Tougher Times), was first written in the Fast Company online version of the magazine in February 2002 and if you were to read it now, you might notice that some of the advice is just so logical and probably should be done every day.
A group of business leaders got together earlier in the year to discuss how to respond to the tough conditions at the time. Some of the discussions were recorded and reading it, I think you'll find some interesting and thought provoking observations of what billion-dollar organisations were doing to weather the dot-com storm.
They were asked a series of questions; all related to what organisations should and shouldn't do during tough times. One of the questions asked was "What's the most common mistake that companies make in responding to a market downturn?"
What's the most common mistake that companies make in responding to a market downturn?
Amongst the more interesting responses was the failure to not make investment. The person suggested that during a downturn, it is possible to acquire assets and capabilities at the low end of the market. The reasoning is that by acquiring them low, you could become well positioned to take advantage of them during the upturn. At the time I re-read the article, Warren Buffett announced a $5 billion injection into Goldman Sachs. Why would Warren Buffett do this?
And, on the topic of best practices to adopt within their own business? One of the CEOs had this to offer: "The smart thing to do is embrace disruptive technologies... It's more important than ever to use technology to change the game and save money."
It might be a bit different now but there are a lot of parallels with the events that have led us to this point. And while it may be a little unpredictable at the moment, the most important thing to do is to try and make sense of it all.
A senior vice president of a major producer of semiconductor products offered the following advice:
"It's all about leveraging relationships. In this period of change, the companies that can find a way to collaborate with their customers, employees and suppliers to come up with a new way of doing business together are the ones that can change the game."
And if companies could do only one thing next Monday morning, what should they do?
One leading figure, interviewed in the article, suggested "killing two birds with the one stone...
"Invest in technology that reduces your operational cost and that at the same time increases your touch with your customer".
Reading through the article, it becomes evident pretty quickly that there are four major themes that form the essence of what it takes to get through turbulent times. From a leaders' perspective, it takes Investments, Relationships, Management and Technologies to set up a company to be propelled into the next upturn.
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