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Businesses should consider going on offence during crisis

  • Dawn Milne
  • |
  • May 1, 2020
 Businesses should consider going on offence during crisis

David Wood, HBA ’97, MBA ’12, moderated a webinar on operating in a crisis

In times of crisis, companies have a tendency to move into defensive mode, but David Wood says what they need is a strong offensive plan.

“The step that I think a lot of people forget is that a crisis is a great opportunity to look at going on the offensive,” said Wood, HBA ’97, MBA ’12, a lecturer in Operations Management. “We tend to focus so much on the defensive side of things that we don't think about the opportunities that exist. Look at adjacent markets, or growing your market share – really setting yourself up, if not to grow, then at least setting yourself up for the capacity to grow when things do recover.”

For a webinar from The Ivey Academy called Operating in a crisis, Wood discussed six steps leaders should take to manage effectively during a crisis from an operational perspective:

1. Taking ownership – Stepping up and ensuring your management team is engaged and working to overcome problems;

2. Challenging your business model – Assessing what’s working and what needs to change;

3. Communicating – Being transparent with your customers, employees, shareholders, creditors, suppliers, and community members about what you know and don’t know;

4. Implementing your plan – Having the right activities, resources, and measurables in place and ensuring your employees are dedicated to all aspects of the plan;

5. Leading by example – Making sure you are seen by your employees, management team, and customers and that you deliver a consistent message to all; and,

6. Going on the offensive – Planning for new opportunities and growth.

An expert panel that included Brian Boulanger, HBA ’97, President and Director of ARC Financial Corp., and Devi Rajani, Senior Managing Director of Corporate Finance & Restructuring at FTI Consulting, also gave advice. Here are some key takeaways:

Brian Boulanger – Get the right team in place

“You’ll find there are people who thrive in a crisis and they want to lead others, and then others are good leaders in a different time. Identifying the right leaders in the moment is important and then putting them in a position to lead and shine is also important.”

Devi Rajani – Focus on your core competency

“When you get out of what your core competency is and what you’re good at because the market is booming and you think, Oh, I want to get into that, too. I can make money, too, that’s where we often find companies getting into problems.”