Posts Tagged ‘robustness’

by Richard Martin

I’m currently updating a course on crisis and emergency leadership for a government client. It’s a great opportunity to revisit the responsibilities of leaders BEFORE a crisis strikes.

Research shows that most crises have internal causes (see the United Airlines incident, and now the one that has just occurred on an American Airlines flight); they are therefore predictable and can be prevented and mitigated through proper vigilancepreparation, and robustness.

Here are 10 techniques and principles you can apply as an organizational leader to prevent or better prepare for a crisis, before one strikes.

  1. Mobilize your team by anticipating and identifying potential crises before they strike.
  2. Implement rational risk management and prevention/mitigation measures.
  3. Establish priorities for prevention and preparation on an ongoing basis.
  4. Create robust contingency plans to deal with the most likely and most dangerous situations you can envisage.
  5. Implement sound policies and procedures for the most likely crisis situations and events.
  6. Prepare yourself and your team through diligent practice and training.
  7. Employ trusted advisors and associates and ensure they are well qualified and working as a team.
  8. Build as flexible and resilient an organization as possible within the constraints of time and resources.
  9. Work on becoming more self-aware as a leader and seek to acquire the competencies to lead in a crisis.
  10. Develop the support structures and welfare systems you will need to maintain morale, unity and cohesion if a crisis should occur.

And with that, go forth and lead!

New Testimonial

“Richard has been instrumental in drawing on my hard-won experience and ideas to turn them into marketable intellectual property and products. His disciplined, systematic approach has already led to several significant accomplishments for me. Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, or working to get the next level, Richard can boost your productivity and organizational effectiveness. Be forewarned, though. There is no magic formula, just systematic thinking, disciplined execution, and… Richard Martin.”

Caroline Salette, Owner and President, RE/MAX Royal Jordan Inc. and Salette Group Inc.

Richard Martin’s Business Readiness Process:

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Contact me to apply the whole thing–or just a piece, as needed–to improve your strategy, your readiness… and your results!

Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?

Why Sunday and What Does “Stand To” Mean?

Sunday? I want you to get my insights and advice first and fast, so you can prepare and up your readiness and results before others even know what’s happening!

And Stand To? It’s the order used in the military to get forces to man the parapets and be in a heightened state of situational awareness and, yes, readiness, so they can face any threat or undertake any mission.

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

In Brilliant Manoeuvres, I wrote about the need for resilient and robust lines of communication: the ability to bounce back and resist disruptions in supply and logistics, both incoming and outgoing.

But the concept of robustness is just as important in business strategy and commercial tactics. Too often, companies develop a strategy or a business model that is exquitely designed for a particular (and temporary) set of economic conditions. When these change, the company is left high and dry. I was reading about a manufacturer in southern Ontario that decided to specialize in supplying machinery and components to the oil industry. The business invested in retooling and recapitalizing to meet the demands of increased oil prices. Now that prices have collapsed in that sector, exploration and production has been pulling back, so the company is left high and dry.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for diversification away from traditional business models and the strategies that have gotten you success in the past. But you have accept that your plans might not go exactly the way you expect them to. As they say in the Army, a plan is only good until you cross the start line. This is why robustness and resiliency are essential, in strategy as well as logistics and supply. Here are the four principles of robustness and resiliency:

Redundancy: Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Ensure you have multiple business lines and business models, and take deliberate, incremental steps away from exhausted strategies before you are in crisis mode.

Reaction: Keep reserves and develop internal flexibility of resources and capabilities to react quickly and effectively to opportunities and threats.

Responsiveness: Internally, be on the lookout for changing morale, capabilities, resources, and information. Externally, deliberately seek opportunities and threats in a constantly changing competitive battlespace.

Anticipation: Expect change and uncertainty. Build them into your projections and models. Assume you have limited information and develop a range of scenarios so you are not caught in the shallows when the tide runs out.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and needs by changing one’s configuration or role. Military units have to be flexible because commanders and planners can never know for sure ahead of time what the exact requirements of a situation will be. As a result, military units are usually given a main role and mission and secondary roles and missions in case the plans go awry for whatever reason. This builds flexibility into the plans and manoeuvres of the organization.

There are three levels of flexibility. The first is resilience. This is the ability to absorb a change or a shock to the system and to recover in enough time and with sufficient resources to get back on track. We all need resilience because we never can be sure that we won’t be hit in the flank or confront an unforeseen obstacle.

The second level of flexibility is robustness. This is the ability to seek out potential problems ahead of time in order to create backup solutions and contingency plans to be activated ‘just-in-case.’ The practice of giving alternate and backup roles and responsibilities, as described above, in order to cover for others and potential mistakes is a part of achieving robustness.

The third level of flexibility is adaptability. This is the ability to change configuration and even purpose on the fly with the resources at hand, to play defence while reconfiguring, and to seize or re-seize the initiative in order to go back on the offensive.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

The Canadian dollar descended below parity with the US dollar over the last few weeks. Now it’s back above parity (at least as I write this). The US has moved to impose a traveller’s tax for people entering the country. The Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve may or may not raise interest rates. Steve Jobs passed away and we don’t know how Apple will fare under new leadership.

These are pretty tame events compared to others. Turkey just had an earthquake. European government finances have been in turmoil for over two years. Muammar Kaddafi has apparently been executed after months of civil war in Libya. Chinese companies are ripping off the ideas of Western companies who set up production facilities there. We live in turbulent world and this is why we all need to be as resilient and robust as possible.

I’ve been saying this for years now, but it bears repeating: No one can predict what will happen next. However, the solution isn’t to try to create more certainty, because that doesn’t exist. The only solution is to build what I’m now calling “Corporate Robustness.” Corporate Robustness goes beyond simple resiliency, which is the ability to recover from mistakes and disruptions. Corporate Robustness is the ability to survive and even thrive in turbulent environments, absorbing shocks, and steering through the fog and ice floes to get to the desired destination.

Here are some elements of corporate robustness:

•Use debt intelligently to invest in building business, not to create an empire that feeds the egos of senior management and owners.
•Maintain cash reserves to weather downturns and to invest in short-term opportunities.
•Surround yourself with the best people you can.
•Be wary of the competition while putting your true focus on serving existing and potential customers.
•Periodically review your processes and inputs so you’re as efficient and effective as possible.
•Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. While the media and the occasional lucky break lend credence to the idea of “instant success,” in reality most raging successes are built one brick at a time through disciplined application of a few core practices and principles.
•In battle, you always have to set up a secure base from which to operate while sending out scouting parties. Maintain the integrity of your core business while experimenting with new markets, products, technologies, resources, etc. This allows you to experiment while managing risks.
•You can try to imitate your competition, but lasting success accrues to those who can bypass the competition by redefining products and markets. Think of how Apple didn’t try to create an imitation Blackberry, with the same security features, but instead recombined existing hardware and software to create the iPhone, really a miniature handheld computer that leverages the tremendous power of the Internet and also happens to be a phone.
•Stay continually at least one tactical bound ahead of the competition by continually upgrading your market leading products and penetrating deeper into the customer segments you already occupy and control.
•Maintain an offensive mindset. No one ever won a battle or a war by hunkering down and adopting a bunker mentality. An offensive mindset doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always attacking. Rather, it’s about gaining and maintaining the initiative. If you don’t have it, fight for it. If you have it, work to keep it at all costs.

These are just a few elements of what it entails to be a robust business, to adopt a Corporate Robustness mindset. I’ll be elaborating more on this in the months to come. In the meantime, look at your own situation to see how you compare with these principles, both as individuals and as organizations.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2011. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.