By Judy Sailer, PHR, Lean Six Sigma
We have all lived through a crisis or two. I have had the pleasure of working with one organization that saw many a crisis including fire, flood and funding! It has been a question throughout time which came first the chicken or the egg and the same is asked of these opportunities – does the strategy come first or the crisis?
I call them opportunities since you have the ability to learn from both. So, you don’t have a plan and when a crisis occurs your staff team steps up and pulls up the boot straps and takes care of business. Good for you! Excellent! You have learned you hired a great team and they have shown they can function at a high level in crisis without having a plan. Now make a
plan so they feel their hard work has paid off and that you valued the experience.
Now, let’s say you have a plan and a funding crisis begins. You meet your team and share with them what’s going on and you begin to implement the plan. Your staff knows they need to work a bit harder and smarter and pull a bit more weight and yet … they don’t. They keep doing what they have been doing and you see no change in the direction the organization is headed. Well folks, the building is on fire and failure means income loss and potential job loss.
If you are lucky, you work with or for people that believe in having a plan. Having a plan only works if everyone knows what is in the plan and what their role in the plan is. If you have a plan and one staff person does not know their role – success may not be attainable. Yes, it only takes one.
What is the driving force for Strategy; this is where our conversation began on Taking Care of Business. Here are some steps to help you through the process of developing your plan.
MAKE A PLAN: I know you are thinking “well I own a small business – I don’t have to worry about that”. Think about the folks who have dealt with natural disasters this year. There are small, medium and large businesses that have had crushing blows dealt to them. They all needed a plan to support success. You have to have a plan in order to come through the darkness and achieve your goals. We have seen those in New Orleans re-open their businesses and thrive so it can be done and with a plan it keeps you moving in the right direction and minimizes some of the stress.
GET HELP IN CREATING THE PLAN: The way that we think has a style. Do you know someone who always thinks of what can go wrong — I do and he was the reason and driving force behind having a strategy to deal with REAL CRISIS. When the fire happened he had a plan; when the flood happened he had a plan. The funding well that is for another day but he had a plan for that too.
If you don’t think that way, find someone that does or a consulting firm that has the experience to see (analyze) your current reality and who is skilled and knowledgeable in business planning strategy. It’s not uncommon for business owners and business leaders, “not to see the forest through the trees”, you have to see things from a different view point to be successful with this.
INCLUDE EVERYTHING DOWN TO THE KITCHEN SINK: In terms of strategy management you have to include everything. Budget, technology, staff, human resources, marketing, business functions all need to be reviewed for impact. When the fire and flood occurred, the transportation systems for vehicles and for pedestrians had to be changed. Marketing had to be modified to support the participants and provide them necessary information to interact with us.
The press had to be dealt with to make sure they were giving accurate information. Staff had to be notified, materials had to be replaced – I could keep going. Every department of the organization had to be communicated to and involved with the aftermath.
INCLUDE THE COMMUNICATION PLAN: You have both internal and external clients. Everyone needs to know what is going on so that the truth is out there. This means your phone outgoing message should change every day to let clients and potential clients know you are still available and of course the website and social media must be updated so people know your business still exists.
REVIEW THE PLAN AND MODIFY AS NEEDED: Now a plan does not get created and get put on the shelf. You have to visit it at minimum twice a year to be sure it covers everything. Who would have thought about bomb threats or intruders in the past? Now we all know the effects of that. Modify the plan when you find something that you are missing. Contact outsourcing services to have it reviewed. Your eyes begin to see “furniture” that you don’t trip on but to someone new they will have clearer eyes.
The best thing you can do is have a plan. Plan if you can and get help doing it but always think. Your best defense is being prepared.