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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did we really prepare...

Terry Gross from NPR’s Fresh Air interviewed Donovan Campbell author of the book Joker One and as part of the interview she asked him to share the following quote about being in the heat of battle,

“You can only pretend that you're already dead and thus free yourself to focus on three things: One finding and killing the enemy. Two communicating the situation and resulting actions to the adjacent unit and higher headquarters. Three triaging and treating your wounded. If you love your men, you naturally think about number three first, but if you do you're wrong. The grim logic of combat dictates that numbers one and two take precedence."

I continue to read about the difficult economy and the unprecedented challenges many businesses are facing in their effort to survive in the wake of the financial crisis.

I feel like this economic situation is business warfare and I am thinking how would a leader in the business world make Donovan’s statement? I think it would be the following:

You must free yourself to focus on three things in business:
1) Generating cash and profits (not just revenue)
2) Communicate the situation and plans to investors, management, and staff
3) Protect and invest in your staff
If you care about your staff then you would think about number three first, but if you do; you are wrong. The grim reality of business dictates that number one and number two take precedence.

This appears on the surface to be very harsh and in some respects it is. However, if you are not focusing on making a profit you won't have a business for very long. If you are not communicating with your lenders and investors the situation and your strategy they may pull support or worse bet against you.

In almost every business it is our people that make the difference in our success. The military prepares their teams for intense situations where fear can paralyze an individual; have we done the same for our staff so that they are not paralyzed with fear?

Did we do the right training before the business situation intensified?

Are we communicating effectively so that staff members know what they should be doing?

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