Crisis Champions: Centre

Almost all of us have a set of values for our organisations; we all say our people are our most important asset. Which is a terrible saying. We should indeed manage assets, but we lead people. But it is only under pressure our true organisational values are exposed, as are our personal virtues. If they are true values and virtues they do not change due to circumstances. "Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become"according to renowned scholar Brooke Foss Westcott

So what will we choose? Will we throw out our values because the pressure is on, or will we stay true to what is important to us and those around us? It’s a pivotal question for me because at its core, is a call that will determine the engagement of our stakeholders, and therefore ultimately the organisation’s sustainability.

A crisis is a test of...

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Crisis Champions: Capture


The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger--but recognize the opportunity.

When in a crisis the overwhelming temptation is to think and act short term.
There is definitely a need to prioritise, preserve and persevere in the early conservation stage. However, the earlier you can start thinking about the new needs that have been created, and the possible opportunities they represent, the better prepared you’ll be for the post crisis world.

There will be organisations that do not survive this crisis or a future one, that is sadly true. What is also true is that those who prepare well, pivot positively, look after their teams, and have momentum, will come out of the blocks fast, and be the winners in the new order.

Innovation and creativity have become mandatory even in a stable market, due to digital disruption. How much more so in the transition...

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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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