OK, so here we are again, all of us, the president on down together for yet another meeting. As I peered around the table I knew what everybody was thinking." Is this it? Is this the day he tells us it is over? How could that be, we have done everything possible to make our company competitive again.
Our team had spent many hours identifying industry uncertainties and creating scenarios of possible ways our industry could evolve.
- We'd asked our executives the hard questions, "What keeps you up at night?" And they gave us their answers in discussions of "what if."
- Our preparedness plans dealt with every conceivable negative eventuality our organization might face in the future and then some.
- We reached conclusions that we could handle the eventualities that were just outlined by our president with a very conservative doable organizational business/action plan.
- We felt we had a good handle on environmental signals that could affect our business down the road and we had taken the requisite action to prepare our organization for today.
More importantly, six months prior our crisis preparedness unit was given the green light and funding to build an entirely new organization in case the worse happened.
Our new organization's strategies were based on the weaknesses of our current/old organization. We initially had been exploring ways to attack the organization from within before a competitor does under the watchful eye and funding of our old company executive team. We realized that several economic, product production, distribution and marketing variables might make it impossible for our old company to survive so we built a new company from within.
Our new organization had become a lean operation. Cost savings by waste elimination and doing the most with current resources without additional spending was our initial mantra. In time, we reduced our level of sales tax overpayment, made policy expense reductions, instituted systemized invoicing, reduced outside vendor costs, made dealer call communications improvements, more closely monitored our CSI measures for immediate product and service fixes, restructured our new field sales force and developed lean measures for our home office work force. Our dealer driven systems and administrative improvements and rework presented even great opportunities for saving costs. As a result our profit and interest income continued to increase while our rate of earned revenue return and net profit as a % of earned income increases rose substantially. We were well ahead of plan when our president suddenly gutted our program with his proclamation.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, in the next six months we will cease to exist as a corporation."
Our president's situational review of the corporation's financials, economic environment and markets had set the stage for this final statement. I gave a quizzical glance to the head of corporate operations, a fellow crisis preparedness unit team member while I thought to my self, "Why would he make this pronouncement when we had already created a stakeholders contingency plan for just such an eventuality?" As I caught the eye of each of my crisis team members the look of betrayal in their eyes was palatable.
Three days after our "Cease To Exist" meeting our crisis unit was called together. Most felt as if it was over already and our mood was sour.
Our president made his brief introductions and promptly introduced our new leader for the new organization we had created. Unbelievably our old management really had listened to our progress and was monitoring our efforts daily as if their lives depended upon it... which of course it did.
Frankly they were flabbergasted that our creative initiatives were working and held hope for their future survival. They knew that the economy was like house guests that wouldn't leave and were impressed at how our performance had overcome, in scale, and was working.
As we took each step they reviewed our analysis of how societal, regulatory, technological and business, economic and retail forces were being handled. They applauded behind our backs as we took the implications for our new organization forward;
- Risks and opportunities
- Which business models will thrive and which will crumble?
- What new practices or products would thrive or be irrelevant?
- Suggestions for viable new product or service offerings
Our new creatively developed fully functioning organization looked like it could with stand the rigors of today's market and our old management now held hope for the future. Our crisis preparedness process had helped save the corporations bacon by identification of the real KPIs in a re calibrated world.
This case study reflects an existing corporation and their struggles to survive in today's environment with its crisis preparedness unit driving change for the future.