Dead Company V: More Ways to Avoid the GraveYard

In our last post, we talked about twelve smart things a smart company could do to avoid the graveyard that many of its dumb company peers are heading too in this down economy. Today, we’re going to talk about ten more smart things a smart company can do, courtesy of Christopher Lockhead who guest-posted ten essential strategies for weathering the economic storm on Dan Farber’s Outside the Lines CNet blog (and one really dumb strategy, that I exposed in Dead Company II, so we’ll skip it).

  • When you really screw up, fixing it will take longer than you think it will.
    Much longer. So heed good advice and don’t screw up!
  • Get the Facts Yourself
    If you’ve got a problem, you need to get to the heart of it fast, and fix it. Real leaders get real facts and take real actions.
  • Get 2 Top 10 Lists
    Gather the smartest, most courageous people in the company to brainstorm the top 10 ways to drive revenue and the top 10 ways to cut costs. For example, to drive revenue you could assign every promising deal in the pipeline to an executive, focus on core markets first, and design a competitive replacement program. To cut-cost you could pull out of under-performing verticals, sell under-performing assets, and stop all stupid travel, off-sites, and trade-shows. (After all, your money is much better spent on Sourcing Innovation.)
  • Tear off the Band-Aid
    Assume the worst and take the necessary action to turn the situation around.
  • Fire Executives
    If you need to reduce head-count, don’t cut the people who actually do the work. As I’ve reminded you again and again, marketing and new product development are your salvation, so don’t cut them — reduce the top-heavy C-suite instead.
  • Chop the Dead Wood
    Every company has underperforming ‘C’ players, especially on the sales team. Take the opportunity to eliminate the worst performers and make the ‘A’ and ‘B’ players happy in the process — no one wants the ‘C’ players around anyway. After all, the money is better spent on additional training for the ‘A’ and ‘B’ players to help them identify ways to find even more cost savings for you.
  • Tell the Truth
    Some executives think that lying, misleading, and otherwise obfuscating will “soften” the blow in bad times. Wrong! If you have to chop the deadwood, kill the entertainment budget, and reign in the travel and training budgets for a few quarters, be honest — brutally honest. Otherwise, you’ll lose all respect, the ‘A’ and ‘B’ players you kept will start looking for a new job, and you might just end-up in jail if you mislead the stakeholders.
  • Communicate Clearly and Powerfully
    The truth is never as bad as rumors that start with a “No Comment”. Deliver the truth, and also the actions you’re taking to improve the situation.
  • Sign a Pact in Blood
    Stick to your guns and don’t waiver, no matter what.
  • Drive It Like You Stole It
    Legendary teams execute their turnaround plans like it is the last thing they will ever do. Take action. Bust your butt. Get on planes and meet with all of you key customers. Rally your teams in town hall meetings in all of your key offices. Refine your strategy. Focus your efforts. Get your people focused on results. Meet with your top investors to tell them how and why your turn around will work. Get help from some wicked advisers. Recruit new talent to the company. Sell, sell, sell, and lead, lead, lead.