Top-Shelf Tip No. 174:

"When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity."

John F. Kennedy

Surviving A Significant Strategic Disruption

Despite the best of intentions and a solid strategic plan, leaders can sometimes find their organizations in the throes of an unexpected major crisis that threatens their survival. Whether it is the culmination of changing market forces, a self-inflicted incident or the result of a catastrophe, disciplined crisis management is crucial to enterprise survival

Business author Jill Johnson suggests a triage approach in prioritizing your actions to make a significant difference in the outcome. We'll explain in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Clarify The Key Decisions To Be Made. Once you recognize you are in a strategic crisis, focus your critical thinking on the key decisions that will matter the most to resolving it. This includes gaining clarity to understand the underlying dynamics that led to the crisis. To do this, you need to rapidly obtain candid information about the situation. How serious is this? Do you have the proper data to understand the magnitude of the crisis and the options you have for addressing it?

Planning during a turbulent period requires a deep assessment of your business environment. This may be the time to bring in trusted advisors to provide you with insight about options to consider. Just make sure they have the depth of expertise to truly offer you options to resolve your crisis.

Identify the critical strategic information you need to make decisions. Be clear about the outcome you desire. Do you want to save lives, save jobs or save money? This clarity will serve as your guide when you evaluate your options and choices. Assess your assumptions and understand the market forces at play that will determine your ability to resolve the crisis. Focus on the key decisions you will need to make. Everything else is extraneous and a potential distraction.

2. Establish Clear Priorities. The success of any strategic triage effort is to clarify the most significant short-term priorities. Developing clarity among all participants will help them stay focused on the activities which will work to immediately stabilize the situation. All too often, if left to their own devices, team members will use their own judgment to focus on activities they deem important. Unfortunately, if they lack good critical thinking skills, they are likely to focus on efforts with minimal impact.

Establishing clear priorities for your leadership team and employees provides each of them with a clear focus for engaging in efforts that improve the potential for your enterprise survival. These priorities establish a framework for decision-making and minimize focus on irrelevant issues or activities.

3. Engage In Candid Dialog. Engage your key leaders in a candid dialog to identify what they immediately need from their key employees to stabilize the situation or resolve the crisis. Ask your team members to identify options to eliminate the gaps caused by the crisis. Use your clarified priorities to give them guidance. By taking control of your communications you will also be better able to manage the message and focus your talking points.

Identify what you need from each of your stakeholders to resolve the crisis or to stabilize the immediate situation. Identify the most crucial leadership skills you need to deal with the most pressing issues. Do you have the talent in-house or do you need outside resources?

Be sure to engage with key stakeholders both inside and outside your organization. Up-front, proactive discussion will encourage collaboration in addressing the crisis.

Source: Jill J. Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Johnson helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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