The press is constantly bombarding us with negative messages about the Global Financial Crisis. The warning shots have well and truly been fired across the bows of organisations. Its all doom and gloom – unemployment will rise and the glory days are over. Well is that the absolute truth?
There is no doubt that things are changing, but then what’s new. There is no doubt that the changes are wide ranging, so we need to adapt, change and develop. The way we view the challenge is down to us. We do have a choice, we can see it as a threat or as an opportunity to do things differently.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article ‘Unconventional Wisdom in a Downturn”, written by a cohort of Management bloggers from Harvard ( Kaplan, Norton, Friedman, Krishnamurthy, Erickson, Stibel and Delgrosso), the possibilities of how to thrive during these changing times is debated.
Kaplan and Norton in Protecting Strategic Expenditures advocate that organisations create a new expenditure category called strategic expenditure or StratEx. Kaplan and Norton suggest that during difficult times, managers are more likely to defer or transfer funs from strategic projects to achieve short term returns. In doing this, managers may achieve a short term goal, but in deferring strategic initiatives they fail to prepare their organisations for the long term, they fail to strengthen and build capability. Although reducing inefficiency and waste is advocated by the Harvard duo but without sacrificing the focus on the long term sustainable growth of the organisation.
Use the Downturn to enhance skills, written by BV Krishnamurthy the author suggests that it is during a period of economic downturn that it is the ideal time to invest in professional development. When most organisations are looking at cutting back on what is often regarded as this discretionary expenditure, the author suggests that this is the time to invest in the future.
In “Give me the ball!” Is the wrong call, by Tamara Erickson, the author explores the likely behavioural responses of leaders during these more challenging times. She suggests that leaders are more likely to grab hold of the reins and become more directive with staff. This has a big impact on the engagement and willingness of employees and she also suggests that leaders miss a significant opportunity to use the knowledge and experience of their teams. Erickson advises that leaders should:
- Remember to ask great questions
- Build trust across the organisation
- Challenge the status quo.
Erickson says “Downturns are no time to tighten control. They’re opportunities to inspire your people to become more spontaneous and innovative. Pass the ball!”
So what do you think? Do you think we should panic or do you think that opportunities may come with the changes?