Crisis Champions Commit


You can plan, collaborate, engage and do all the things you need to do and still fail unless you do this one thing. Commit! Risk is a relative measure. In a crisis the riskiest thing you can do is do nothing. The second riskiest thing is to react rather than consider and act. Be proactive not reactive.

Nike’s famous slogan is ‘Just Do It!’ Great advice in a crisis. Having a can-do attitude goes a long way in leading in a crisis. You have to be action oriented but remain flexible and learn as you go. In strategic terms it’s an action learning cycle. That cycle of act, think, adjust and go again. Without action there is no result. Commitment is a great trait as long as its balanced with an understanding that you will sometimes be wrong, and that’s OK. It’s not a measure of weakness to have a crack at a solution and get it wrong. It’s a sign of ego if you then persist and don’t flex. That’s why your communication...

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Crisis Champions: Create

“Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential.”Said Jeannette Wall, and I tend to agree.

Necessity is indeed the“mother of invention”.

A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. This saying appears in the ‘Dialogue Republic’, by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. So, its nothing new. Yet we still reach for the blunt axe when faced with a crisis.

Taking a moment to consider the consequences. Thinking a little more medium term, looking at our resources, considering options, understanding the changing landscape and appearing opportunities, is how we become successful. It’s where the true pivot comes from. Unlocking creativity in crisis is not a natural response and we have to remind ourselves, and our people, to keep calm and considered, in order to remain creative.

In crisis the marketplace is moving at a staggering rate. Your business...

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Crisis Champions: Conserve


In a crisis situation resources become scare or stretched. With dwindling resources come reduced options. Conservation whilst absolutely required to preserve resources, is as much about reallocation and mindful distribution. Organisations that can make the clarity of priorities early, have more options to preserve resources, more resources to reallocate, and more potential to pivot.

Again it requires some foresight, some thinking and some medium term consideration whilst still acting with urgency. “Every little thing counts in a crisis.” saidNehru. I think that is a wise observation.

Small actions and small amounts of resources applied in the right spot at the right time can yield great fruit.

In the midst of bringing Gloria Jeans Coffees back on track and facing huge pressures on all sides, we found a way to explore some future potential. We partnered with a Franchise Partner and built our first ‘drive thru’. It was a...

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Crisis Champions Collaborate

You maybe the smartest person on the room, but you are not always right. You have one perspective, one set of experiences and one world view. Regardless of how smart and experienced you are, if you’re human, you’re often wrong, or as we like to say, “not quite right”. When we are surrounded by a team, why wouldn’t we unlock that potential and leverage the collective experience in the room?

Steve Jobs may have had an enormous ego as the head of Apple, but he understood his place in the information age when he famously quipped, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

So how do we collaborate in a way that makes sense when all around us is changing rapidly.

The only difference between collaboration in a crisis and in a normal operating environment, if there is such a thing, is speed.

The cadence of decision making is amplified in a crisis, so...

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Crisis Champions: Communicate


How and what you communicate in a crisis will very often determine the success or otherwise of your endeavors. It’s that important!

Building trust quickly is essential. You will need people to respond quickly and effectively if you are to move fast enough to react to the crisis unfolding.

Transparency builds trust, and a willingness to be open, vulnerable and authentic goes a long way to building trust.

A wise person said that “the problem with communication is the illusion that its taken place”. Just when you’ve repeated your message yet again, and you’re thinking surely, I can’t need to say this again; it is just starting to land with those who need to hear it. More is better; be succinct and clear yes, but it’s hard to over communicate. What you communicate is also important, be genuine, open and transparent; no secrets, or ‘need to know’ policy, which often becomes weaponised in the hands of power...

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Crisis Champions: Clarify

In the midst of a crisis there is overwhelming pressure, both from within the organisation and from external forces, such as stakeholders and environmental factors.

The key is to generate clarity in uncertainty by holding to a set of agreed priorities.

The opportunity to be distracted by the urgent rather than the important is heightened in a crisis. Beware the noise that comes from someone else’s agenda.

Ensue the organisation is focused on what is truly important, and absolutely foundational, or it will busy itself in the urgent minutia. 

Whatever you do, if it’s going to be effective it has to be simple, super simple. This is not a time for complexity it’s a time for simplicity. You need a clarion call to galvanize an organisation to change its behaviour based on a simple set of imperatives.

The great Kiwi, Sir Peter Blake led Team New Zealand to successive victories in the America's Cup yacht competition in 1995 and 2000. The key to this success was...

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Crisis Champions: An Introduction


In a time of crisis we all reach for those words of wisdom and experience that have echoed down through time. My intellectual giant of choice is Mike Tyson who said, somewhat aptly in my view; “everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the face.” Crude yes, but that’s what COVID feels like for most of us.

One thing that has become very apparent to us all is that, control is an illusion and our environment a lot less predictable than we like to think. Great leaders help define reality. In this case it’s the impact of COVID, on our individual team members and collective organisation.

For business leaders everything has changed, priorities, focus, and tempo. The environment we operate in is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Yet everything has remained the same. The characteristics of great leadership remain unchanged in a crisis, but the timeframes and impacts become hyper-concentrated. There is a contracting of decisions,...

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People Always Assume the Worst

What is it about bad news?

It sells well, travels fast and seems to catch our attention. Our 24-hour news cycle is unfortunately built on it. Despite all the views to the contrary there is nothing wrong with communication in most companies. All and every staff survey will put communication at the top of things to improve, and yet bad news will get around a team at the speed of gossip.

Organisations leak news and despite all the efforts to maintain secrecy, people inevitably know something about what is going on.

Many leaders endeavor to cloak everything on a ‘need to know’ basis, as if there is a risk of everyone knowing what’s going on. The trouble with this is, people talk and if there is bad news brewing, they will automatically assume the very worst. 

So even if you have dire news, let people know, be transparent, go broad in your reach for ideas and input, and trust your team to handle it well.

Have one plan; make it very open and transparent, super...

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Productivity is a Fruit of Environment

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize [winner] in economics, once wrote: "Productivity is not everything, but in the long run, it is almost everything."

Are you frustrated by how long it takes to get things done? Why is that? What would it take to get higher productivity? We do have a major problem with productivity levels of below 1%, despite all our technological advances. Something is fundamentally wrong, not at the fringes but at the core of how we do leadership, business and run organisations.

Productivity is not an outcome driven by stopwatches and clipboards.

If it were, we would see gains. It’s a product of an engaged environment, created by a leader as its catalyst. The leader encourages and protects the environment, the environment delivers engagement, and engagement produces productivity. Authentic leadership creates an engaging environment that leads to increased productivity.

In today’s business environment, trust in leaders is at an all time low according to...

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Everybody Has An Off Day

People are human, would seem to be self evident; yet do we treat our teams that way? Are they just organic machines? Of course not!

Sometimes as leaders we become so fixed on our goals and KPIs we forget we are hiring flesh and blood, flawed, inconsistent and subject to outside influences. They are not unlike you and I.

Occasionally I wake up and don’t want to do today, it’s not my usual good morning God, it’s more like good God it’s morning. We all have families and relationships that aren’t always perfect; or is it just me.

Build in some grace and some flexibility for your team. Don’t expect 100% performance all the time.

Allow for some ups and downs. Have the conversation when it’s not going well, not from a ‘you should’ perspective but from a ‘how can we help’ stance. Who knows what others are going through?

Asking the question may help rescue a wonderful employee who is going through the mill, and just...

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