Picking Up the Pieces: Emerge as a Redesigned Organization

When world economies rebound from this recessionary beating, will your company be positioned to set full-sail into the upturn’s prosperous winds? On world, national, and enterprise levels, financial medics have repeatedly defibrillated the sources of lifeblood for economic health. As consumers and investors express progressive confidence in these measures and contraction turns to expansion, we’ll all take stock to see which companies made the cut.

When we see which organizations stayed sufficiently solvent – in nonprofit, public and private sectors alike – we’ll ask, “How did these organizations survive? What did they do differently? What’s to stop them now from becoming the powerful leaders of their industries?” At the Center for Organizational Design, we predict that these “survivors-of-the-fittest” companies will have developed the following characteristics:

A clear, compelling sense of purpose and mission

Ambiguity has destroyed many companies in the last few years. Emergent organizations know exactly why they exist. For example, one of the most specific, empowering senses of corporate mission we’ve seen comes from the Volvo car corporation. The company has set a goal for no one to die in any of their cars by 2020. (See this link and this link) The list of recessionary victors will prove that companies who have aims higher than mere survival will effectively weather the storms.

Innovative and ethical leadership

Have many boards of directors used temporary agencies to select executive leadership in the last few years? As quickly as high-level leaders turnover in certain sectors, it’s easy to think so. The challenges facing organizations right now have no precedent. Leaders can’t rely on outdated models and philosophies to guide their decisions. The successful leaders of the last few years have demonstrated their ability to innovate new solutions for unprecedented problems. Some of them will show great measures of bravado by identifying and pursuing opportunities presented by the crisis. These leaders will not compromise on principles of integrity to accomplish all this.

A committed and versatile workforce

The companies that survive and succeed in spite of the recession will figure out how to hire and retain talented employees when compensation budgets are stretched thin. Employees are not naïve to the difficulties facing their employers; companies will build high levels of trust by being transparent and honest with them throughout the crisis. When promotions are not available, successful companies permit their workforce to make lateral moves and diversify their skill sets. One high level HR manager conceded that the leadership of a large retail corporation is observing who the real performers are while operating on slimmed-down teams. Did that HR manager consider that all those employees are also observing how their company treats them during the crucible? How committed will those employees be to the company once the economy improves and there’s more career mobility? When budgets won’t permit merit increases and promotions, the successful companies will better employee compensation with increased trust and respect.

Incomparably lean and efficient operations

After an organization asks which aspects of its work are non-essential and then makes the appropriate cuts, it will ask again, which aspects of its work are non-essential and then make more appropriate cuts. As we noted in a recent article, the economic crisis won’t permit curious forays into possible markets and product lines. Organizations should ask repeatedly what divisions and which people bring true value to the business. Decisions about what aspects of the business to focus on are made quickly and effectively.

A sense of humor

The world will not end. Effective leaders won’t permit the strain of circumstances to degrade trust and rapport that seem to flourish much easier in prosperous times. Companies that emerge well-positioned in the next year will have recognized and taken advantage of unique opportunities to build teams and a general sense of esprit du corps.

We Can Help

Redesigning your organization to succeed in the coming economic upturn must be done now to realize short-lived opportunities. Visit www.centerod.com for information about how our services and programs can help your organization develop these “survival” skills. Several articles on the site contain valuable information about how to assess your organization, refine your organizational strategy, and further develop your leadership teams.

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The Center for Organizational Design was created in 1992 to create high performance organizations that enrich human life and achieve extraordinary results. We're experts in organizational design and creating high performing companies. We provide consulting and training to help leaders build organizations that can succeed in today’s complex, fast-changing environment. www.centerod.com

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