Luke Johnson, writing in yesterday's FT, asked a great question. Who of quality is willing to join an ailing concern?
At the same time he raised the issue that some of the great business managers of recent years are not fit for the new economic environment – unless they adapt very quickly of course.
We are reminded of the story of Admiral Stockdale as a POW in Vietnam. Apparently, those prisoners who were too optimistic died – only those who faced the hard facts and committed to endure, survived. This is described by Jim Collins as the Stockdale Paradox. And, in effect, Luke is saying that we are that kind of business environment now.
In Stockdale's case – too much optimism was 'we'll be home by Christmas' in our scenario of business meltdown 2009, it is that 'business will be back to normal by 2010'. It won't and anyone who lives in this hope is likely to go down with his or her business.
Curiously, our own business has faced this paradox early in the business cycle – and our response has been to re-focus on our core competency and cut 75% of our staff putting many of key staff onto a part time basis.
However, we don't want to lose the extremely able teams we've built – so now we are offering our services to other ailing concerns as interim managers on either a cash or equity remuneration. This is how come we are offering these services on ClearValueTeam.
I think, therefore, Luke's question is a great one.
And the answer for entrepreneurs who can not bare to see highly teams dismantled is to get to position their existing business to survive and thrive and then go and do the same for other businesses.
Our view is that, if as a team, we can deliver this, then coming out of the recession will mean we have one of the most able and battle hardened teams around and we'll have built some great assets and tremendous business relationships with our clients.
A few months ago, I felt pretty miserable about what we were going through, but with this new focus, we can begin to see a way through.
So, if you are reviewing your or your client's businesses and deciding that they need to shrink to survive and want to know who will join an ailing concern – the answer is, we will.