advertisement
advertisement
The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Conquer any crisis and strengthen your company with these 8 smart strategies

Following the right strategies in good times can help your business survive the bad times.

Conquer any crisis and strengthen your company with these 8 smart strategies
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]
advertisement
advertisement

Over the last year, leaders have experienced a multitude of crises that have impacted their everyday business operations, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the struggling economy to an often tense social and political climate. A company’s ability to carry on through difficult circumstances like these depends largely on its internal flexibility and resilience.

advertisement
advertisement

Leaders must actively work on developing the ability to pivot, adapt, and bounce back from adverse or uncertain situations. To help, eight members of Fast Company Executive Board share their best tips for building stronger, more resilient organizations. Follow their advice so you can be fully prepared to navigate any crisis that comes your way.

1. PLAN AHEAD SO YOU CAN STAY IN THE GAME

Never get knocked out of the game. If you keep cash in the bank, you can figure your way out of the majority of situations. Every quarter, consider what could indeed knock you out—do this with your leadership team or with peers. My business is in the event space, and while no one anticipated a global pandemic, we did consider similar scenarios and solutions long before COVID-19 hit. This caused us to make shifts in our business model—digital offerings, more community support—to insulate us in case we weren’t able to execute on live events. – Jayson Gaignard, MMT Community

2. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

The temptation in a crisis is to jump to a solution, which will at least eliminate the uncertainty of not having a decision. The better option is to find a quiet place to sit with the uncertainty for a moment and ask, “What do I need to decide now—as soon as possible—and what should I decide later—as late as possible—to allow the situation to come into focus and give me time to learn more?” Then ask yourself what you need to know to make better decisions. That will help you separate the truly urgent from the things that are too important to decide quickly with insufficient information. You’ll gain clarity on what you know, what you don’t know, and what you need to learn. – Katherine Radeka, Rapid Learning Cycles Institute

advertisement

3. LAYER A HEALTHY CULTURE WITH SMART SOLUTIONS

Building a resilient organization not only requires continuity in your processes and systems but also a deep level of satisfaction among your people. For this reason, it is critically important to create the sort of workplace where people want to be because they feel like they belong. And it’s about more than foosball tables and having a well-stocked break room—it’s about creating the sort of environment where people feel like they are truly heard and can be fully themselves. Layer a healthy culture with smart solutions and iterative processes, and you’ve got a recipe for long-term sustainability and resilience. – Kelly Burton, Black Innovation Alliance

4. PROACTIVELY ADDRESS SOCIAL ISSUES

Leaders need to have high awareness and vigilance around social issues that are impacting their employees and customers and be agile and responsive. Don’t wait for the next crisis—rather, be proactive in addressing issues and creating resources for those who are affected by crises, as well as for aspiring advocates. As part of the current conversation about racism and the recent attacks targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I am convening conversations to discuss and learn together, including sharing support resources and guidance on how non-AAPI staff can support AAPI staff, as well as the company’s strategy on continuing DEI work. This process must be championed and executed regularly by leadership—starting with the CEO—not as a single, “one-and-done” communication or signal, but rather as a core business and communication strategy. Teams need to know this is a priority and feel seen and heard consistently, with internal practices and external messages of solidarity and concrete support. – Jennifer Brown, Jennifer Brown Consulting

5. BUILD A PRODUCTIVE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

Organizational resiliency starts with culture, which is the “operating system” of every organization. It sets the rules and values that drive decision-making at every level, both in good times and, even more importantly, in times of crisis. When things start moving too quickly and the road gets bumpy, culture keeps the wheels on the organization. That’s why the primary responsibility of every leader is to create and nurture a productive organizational culture. The best cultures are those that embrace transparency, create trust, provide psychological safety, and demand accountability. These attributes create the capacity to thrive in the best of circumstances and the resiliency to survive in the worst of them. – Chris Shipley, CR Strategy Partners

advertisement

6. MAKE THE NEEDED SHIFTS TO GET THINGS DONE NOW

There are three things leaders can do to build a more resilient organization amid a crisis. First, we must shift from “perfection” to “learning as we go.” This permits us to find “good enough” solutions so we can act faster and, ultimately, better. Next, shift to a frugal mindset—that is, move from “We don’t have the resources we need” to “Let’s leverage everything we already have (such as knowledge, relationships, and so on) to get started right now.” Finally, shift from a hierarchical approach to problem-solving to one that’s more democratized and inclusive. – Simone Ahuja, Blood Orange

7. BUILD IN FLEXIBILITY FROM THE GROUND UP

Resiliency is much easier to establish at the founding of a business than it is to implement into an existing organization. I recommend creating a culture that embraces change and flexibility from the beginning. Focus on hires who demonstrate a willingness to embrace ambiguity, know how to creatively problem-solve, and are adaptable. If you find yourselves in the middle of a crisis—as many businesses have over the last 12 months—implementing a more collaborative model can help improve resilience through flexibility and innovation. – Misty Larkins, Relevance

8. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

Always work to surround yourself with an amazing team who will rise to the occasion when you are in crisis. While in the crisis, keep focusing on the things that are in your control and the things that matter. Don’t allow anything else to cause distractions. If you get rid of distractions you will naturally focus better on the things that are most important for getting you out of the crisis. – John Hall, Calendar