Last Updated Apr 28, 2009 11:12 AM EDT
Sounds like a lot of change for an organization to take on. Time to bring in a change management artist? Someone who can realign the organization around new strategies, tactics and initiatives?
No, definitely not, argues Harvard Business School professor Lynda Applegate, interviewed on HBS Working Knowledge in Building Businesses in Turbulent Times.
"When approaching change in these turbulent times, don't go searching for a change specialist," Applegate says. "What you need are leaders with a strong plan for how the company is going to survive today and succeed in the future -- leaders who can communicate the first few steps on the path forward and rally employees, customers, and partners to work together in making the tough decisions and taking the steps needed. Success will depend on leaders who are able to stabilize the company as they identify and exploit opportunities, find new market niches, create innovative new offerings, and restructure and reposition."Other Applegate tips for innovating in an economic maelstrom:
- Emphasize Risk Management Since it's uncertain how long this downturn will last, risk management is an important process while chasing opportunities. "Staging commitments to reduce uncertainty and risk, while paving the way for new business growth in the future, is critical."
- We're All New Ventures Now "In a sense," Applegate says, "every business, large or small, needs to think of itself as a 'new venture' right now. This is a time of unprecedented opportunity to rethink offerings, markets, business processes, and organizational structure -- and to improve them to achieve growth."
- Budget Cuts Don't Mean Retrenchment Former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner needed to take $7 billion out of the company's cost structure, but in so doing created a successful "One IBM strategy" that overturned the previous CEO's break-up plan.