What follows this crisis?

The Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal

As I write this, the economy, local, regional, national and global, is in turmoil. Entire industries are being shuttered and reliable sources say we’re in a recession.

No client of mine, nor I, would have ever imagined listing “pandemic” as a threat while doing a SWOT analysis at a strategic planning session.  

This public health emergency should serve as a wake-up call for every business to have two plans.  

Wikipedia says that a disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented process or set of procedures to execute an organization’s disaster recovery processes and recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. It is “a comprehensive statement of consistent actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.”

Many companies are solely reliant on their information technology systems, making them vulnerable for hacking, phishing and ransom. Also, employees may, against policy and perhaps even illegally, download software to company servers making the system unstable. And don’t think for a minute your firm is too small to be held hostage by hackers; two of my clients have endured the nightmare in the last 18 months. Both firms had under 70 employees.

Most companies have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place and while it may not be completely current or include a public health emergency, the plans provide enough for people to execute to keep the business running.

If you don’t have a written BCP, which can be invaluable when you think of all that could go wrong impacting your business, employees, supply chain and clients, it is past time to have someone create one. Reach out to your insurance broker as a starting point.

Let me share my thoughts on what every CEO should do once this emergency is in the rearview mirror.  

Don’t lie to yourself. The first step is self-honesty. Look in the mirror and address the fundamental questions for business survival: How did we do through this health emergency? Do I have the right people on my team? Did we do the right things; what did we do that worked? What should we have done differently? What didn’t work and why? Did we react fast enough?

If you can’t answer these questions honestly, but pretend that you do, you’re only sabotaging yourself and endangering the future of your company. It’s a simple exercise: get out some paper and a pen and make your lists.  

Second for your company to handle future events like this better, you, the CEO, must become a better leader. Personal growth paves the way to business growth. Competitive advantages emerge as a result of taking time to think.

Albert Einstein was credited with saying, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

This is one of those clichés that happens to be true. You need to set an example by continuing to learn so that you can become a better leader. You need to encourage the people around you to make learning a priority too.

If you want a better company, defined as an organization that delivers better outcomes, you have an obligation and responsibility to “grow” your employees, which means making them better.

The third step is simple. Measure what matters. What gets measured gets done, because what gets measured often improves. In a crisis, you figure out fast what really matters. You may or may not have been looking at all the vital signs necessary for your company to survive, and threats that surface often reveal what we didn’t see previously. Get down on paper what matters most to your business success and start tracking it.   

This health emergency should be a wake-up call for every CEO. Yes, you got through it okay, or maybe you didn’t. Regardless there are lessons to be learned from the experience that only the person at the top can own.

Ken Keller is an executive coach who works with small and midsize B2B company owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs. He facilitates formal top executive peer groups for business expansion, including revenue growth, improved internal efficiencies and greater profitability. Email:[email protected]. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the SCVBJ. ν

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