What Have We Learnt During 2009 From Clients Dealing With The Recession?

By | December 17, 2009

This year has, for most organisations, been one of the toughest on record. For some, still being in business in December 2009 is a significant achievement. We thought it would be interesting to try to consolidate the challenges, circumstances and learnings some of our clients have experienced this year and group them into a set of themes:

  1. Organisations that got hold of two key financial levers very early on are coming out of the downturn stronger; (a) Quickly reducing their cost base to reflect income levels and (b) Nailing their cash management.
  2. It was critical to get close to customers who were going to spend money in 2010. These were rarer but they were (are) in the market-place. Those that took a cold hard look at their pipeline and focused their energies accordingly did very well.
  3. Kept key people on-side. When making redundancies the people who you keep are often ignored, they can suffer from survivor guilt, restlessness and low morale. Organisations that made efforts to demonstrate how much they valued this group have reaped the benefit of sustained engagement.
  4. Visible leadership. Low morale is a function of poor management. In times of difficulty it’s leaders that people are looking for. This means creating a realistic but positive mood, being more visible, increasing communications, being open about difficulties, keeping people informed about the businesses health, and perhaps most importantly, being a role model for the changes being asked of everybody.
  5. Maintaining a strategy. Yes, tactical survival is all that matters when you’re really struggling, but the future still needs to be thought about. Management teams that kept part of their thinking directed on the medium term can now think about growth with a serviceable plan.
  6. Not expecting the recovery to be demand led. Organisations that are waiting to see demand come back will improve their business levels in 2010 over 2009, but only in relatively small amounts. The organisations that are already doing better are ones where they are seeking to take share, take a more compelling offer to market, or in some other way shake up their market place. Double digit growth will only be delivered by pro-active organisations.

These six themes have reoccurred throughout 2009. How did you measure up?

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