17
May
09

Thoughts for Tough Times

These are difficult times. Many people have opinions on what to do and how to do it in order to find and take advantage of the opportunities this crisis is creating. Many (most?) of these people are charlatans, ready to give advice and take your money. Others are willing to help any way that they can.

Ben Shapiro fits that mold. He invested decades at the Harvard Business School, teaching and learning from the best and the brightest. He is one of very few people who are smart enough and strong enough to share great thinking and yet admit his doubts. Last Thursday, Ben gave a terrific talk to a breakfast gathering about how to make it through this crisis. Over the next few blog entries, I will explore the main insights he gave us.

Aviate, Navigate, & Communicate!

Aviate, Navigate, & Communicate!

Ben started by giving us three priorities during these times: Aviate, Navigate, and Communicate. These points come from aviation, meant to be applied in cases of emergency. The critical things are to keep the airplane in the air, make sure it stays in safe airspace, and in contact with controllers on the ground. The best recent example of these principles in action was Sully Sullenberger’s heroics with USAir Flight 1549 and his landing on the Hudson River.

The same principles apply to business in these times:

  • Aviate – Manage the company and keep the basics moving forward. It’s important to understand and protect the value engine.
  • Navigate – Set the course for the business. It’s not a time for business as usual and it requires a strong vision to keep the company on track for future success.
  • Communicate – Keep the team informed. There are many stakeholders and much coordination required in order to hold the operation together. Leaders must take the initiative to keep everyone informed and on the same page.

If you can only focus on three things (like many of us), these are three excellent thoughts for current times. There will be more from Ben in the days to come. Stay tuned!

 Next: Silent Killers in a Downturn

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