The Black Swan 44: Tactical Rules for Survival (and Success) in Looney times
"I [will] not accept the explanation of a recession negatively affecting the [new] business. There are still people traveling. We just have to get them to stay in our hotel."—Horst Schulze, former president of Ritz-Carlton, on his new luxury hotel chain, Capella, from Prestige (06.08)
There's really only one story these days, collapse of the financial markets. We are a long way from knowing the outcome. For starters, if you are under about 50 years of age, you've never lived through, as a manager, a truly deep and lasting recession—the last one was in the early '80s. Some of us will combust, some (most) will more or less muddle through—and a few will see opportunity and jump on it.
I have prepared a decidedly un-profound set of "tactical rules" for weathering the storm—and maybe coming out ahead. Named after Nassim Nicholas Taleb's profoundly important book, The Black Swan (a highly improbable nasty event), this list is presented below, in shorthand:
2. Hammer on the basics.
3. Focus on us, not the competition.
4. Puzzle-solving: How to turn this into an opportunity.
8. Waaaaay over-communicate!!!!!! (With everyone—start with your banker.)
9. All work is team work.
11. Work the phones.
12. Perception of fairness.
13. Share the pain.
16. "Thank you."
17. Control your impatience—no temper tantrums.
18. Constant attitude checks—you.
19. Dress for success.
20. Avoid burnout/you, the team, the entire organization.
21. Re-emphasize the company values-philosophy. (Now, more than ever.)
22. Quality!!!!!! (Now, more than ever.)
23. No corner cutting. (Now, more than ever.)
24. Constant reviews/War room.
25. Celebration of small wins.
26. People First/HR is King.
27. Help people with personal financial management.
28. Be generous to those who are let go—e.g., healthcare benefits.
29. Don't over-analyze.
30. Don't under-analyze.
31. Cuts all at once—if possible.
32. Cuts explained in great detail.
33. Quantitative calendar management—focus on "to don'ts."
34. Increase customer-service training.
35. In general, minimize training cuts.
36. Be(very)ware R&D cuts; R&D quick pay SWAT teams.
37. Beware such things as sales travel cuts, ad cuts.
38. "Across the board" = Dumb.
39. Is this a time to over-invest if cash is at hand? (E.g., distressed innovative start-ups?)
40. Stealth work on the likes of XF communication.
41. This could last a long time—LT prep is necessary now.
42. Prepare/Be prepared for more Black Swans.
43. Excellence. (Now, more than ever.)
(44. Remember all this in peacetime—Chuck Knight's legacy.)
[Please re-read Success Tip #139: Work the Damn Phones! Treble Your MBWA! (Managing by Wandering Around.)]