Recovering from Disaster Mode

Article by:
Lynn Parker, EO Seattle
Lynn Parker
EO Seattle

Lynn is the Co-Founder and Principle of Parker LePla, a brand-consulting firm that helps organizations align their strategies, communications and people to better live their brands. E-mail Lynn at lynnp@parkerlepla.com.

The current economic climate takes me back to 2003, the year my brand strategy firm was operating in disaster mode. We had not rebounded from the dot-com crash, were severely top-heavy and focused on an industry in decline. It wasn’t looking good.

In order to survive, we cut staff, created a plan to expand our horizons, and most importantly, we adjusted our focus. In order to rebound, we had to answer the following questions:

  • What did we offer that was different and necessary?
  • How could we productize innovations in a way that made their value clear?
  • Should we eliminate any products/services?
  • What was our vision for the company’s future?
  • What markets needed our expertise the most and how could we open doors there?

I learned from asking these questions that we had to re-assess our role in the industry and adopt a new approach in order to survive and thrive. So, we got to work on a plan. We applied what we learned and put our company back on track. We focused on applying our technology manufacturing expertise to the healthcare industry, did deep layoffs and shifted our product offerings. Because we took the time to honestly ask ourselves the necessary questions and listen with open minds to the answers, we now have laser-sharp focus and a renewed commitment to our core promise as an organization.

What did I learn from this experience? First, that it’s important to take an honest look at what your business can sustain in a time of disaster. Second, go back to the source: your customers. Figure out your role in their lives and do more of what’s most valuable to them. Third, examine your business focus on a regular basis. Find the truth to those fundamental value questions now to avoid hindsight management later. Finally, invest in your business before it’s on the line and make yourself more relevant. You’ll never know what tomorrow brings.


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