Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some Lessons Learned from the 2008-2009 Recession

  • (from Issues for Growth Vol. 18, No.8)

    Recently, we held a meeting with the CEOs and/or owners of two dozen of our clients across a variety of industries. As you might expect, some are experiencing very tough times, some are doing remarkably well, and most are holding their own. To a person, every one of them has a clear understanding of the tactics for the balance of 2009.
    A number of them have downsized, management and employees have taken pay cuts and/or reduced work schedules, product lines have been streamlined,

    As we discussed the measures and actions taken, it became clear to me that we collectively have learned or reaffirmed some basic management lessons during the past year that we would all do well to remember once the economic fortunes turn brighter. We had a lot of fun spending a couple of hours discussing lessons learned. Some of these will be presented in more comprehensive fashion in the next few Issues for Growth.

    Quite a few lessons were very simple statements or values. While some of these may sound a little “Ben Frankin-esque,” I thought I would share a few of these on sound bite form.

    Some Lessons Learned from the 2008-2009 Recession

    · Not every sale is a good (or profitable) sale
    · Focus on cash flow
    · Pay more attention to the balance sheet
    · Sometimes you can make more money at lower revenue levels
    · It’s amazing to see which employees really step up when given the chance
    · We don’t need everything we thought we needed
    · Don’t wait. Deal with the non-performers
    · The importance of good relationships
    – with customers, suppliers, employees, friends
    · Necessity is the mother of invention
    · Focus on the fundamentals
    · Be prepared to sell when the economy is rolling; Don’t miss the next upturn
    · Dangers of the herd mentality
    · Humility is a good thing
    · Focus on your core business
    · Importance of good advisors
    · You discover who the real performers are
    · Sometimes less is more
    · Importance of contingency planning
    · Lean is good; Eliminate waste
    · Simplify business processes
    · Fewer meetings; more focused meetings; “stand-up” meetings
    · End entitlement thinking
    · Tighten the supply chain
    · Execution is the key

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