“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example be able to see a situation as hopeless yet be determined to make it otherwise.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Let’s face it, seeing the glass as both half full and half empty at the same time is a difficult task, but one that must happen if a company is to survive and thrive during adversity. Strategic planning provides a great opportunity to do so, because it allows us to step back from the daily battles, consider the possibilities and establish a direction. Adversity is better dealt with when we know where the light in the tunnel is and what it represents. While this can be challenging, we believe there are three skills needed to plan during a crisis.
*Stay calm, cool and collected (the 3 C’s).
*Focus on the big picture.
*Stick to your world.
Panic is for the other guy. If you’re facing adversity, the first thing to remember is that getting excited about it does absolutely nothing but lead to rash and often bad decisions. The second thing to remember is that your attitude sets the tone for the organization. If you want your people to function effectively, show them how it’s done.
A group planning session can be a fantastic way to establish this command and control mentality because a successful planning session reverberates throughout the organization. If the participants come out of the planning session calm, cool and collected; it will spread to their subordinates. If you’re looking for an example of this, look at Barack Obama. Regardless of your political persuasion, President Obama’s campaign was a case study in how to remain calm, cool and collected in the face of adversity.
*It’s valuable to see the glass as half full and empty at the same time.
*Never panic – no matter the circumstances.
*Calm planning that is focused on the big picture and that sticks to your world will help you manage a business crisis.
The obvious problem with a crisis is that it demands that we focus our attention and resources on solving the problem at hand. What happens is that we then go from fire to fire, trying to solve every problem as it errupts. Planning during a crisis is a must because it provides us the opportunity to step back from the fire for a moment and gain perspective. A successful planning session will allow you to assess the world and identify where that light at the end of the tunnel is and what it represents. In your planning session, stay away from the tactical and focus on where your organization will be once you get past the crisis. It will make you feel better and give your company a sense of purpose beyond fire fighting.
Lastly, stick to your world. Recognize which elements of your challenges (and opportunities) you can control and influence. If it’s out of your hands, you shouldn’t spend time or resources worrying about it because it’s just distracting you from solving the challenges that you can overcome.
I can’t promise that you’ll be successful, but applying the 3 C’s, keeping a big picture focus on what your company/organization can become/achieve and sticking to what you can control/influence; I can promise that you will have a better shot at overcoming adversity than the other guy.