Is Your Business Prepared for Recovery?
Published On: April 30, 2020
I took a morning run. It was rainy and chilly. There was less traffic in the neighborhoods than last week, which was less than the week before. I had gone a mile before I saw my first car. But I wasn’t thinking about lost lives, lost jobs, and economic demise. I had stopped thinking about slowing down and started thinking about speeding up.
Do you like roller coasters? I do. I love the unobstructed view when I sit I the front. And I think it’s just as fun to sit in the back and feel the whip of the turns and the surreal feeling as you start to accelerate before you crest the peak of the initial climb.
As I ran in the rain, my mind was on roller coasters—and business. As we manage our businesses, we are focused on climbing a massive hill and suddenly we are going to get sucked over the top. Yes, things are going to come back quickly, but not all at once and likely in surprising places. Like that roller coaster ride in the back seat. If we are unprepared, we will miss our potential to recover.
Planning Your Recovery
These are strange days. Companies have cut to the bone, with little to spend even on business necessities and their employees. They are systematically working through a plan to ramp down their resources to an affordable level that (hopefully) doesn’t permanently damage the business.
Yet each industry and business will reach a vague inflection point in the coming days and weeks when everything must be undone. They will suddenly accelerate over the flattening curve. How do you balance tight cash flow while cranking the engine to restore cash flow?
There are two difficult considerations: predicting the inflection point and planning your recovery.
Your recovery plan is not the inverse of your hastily built business preservation plan.
It wasn’t business school but rather my summers in middle school when I learned about supply chain logistics. I worked as a laborer for a block mason. I spent my days in the sun hauling mortar and cinder blocks to a team of four masons. I learned quickly it was not about how much I could supply to one mason, but rather making sure each mason had at least one block and their next trowel of mortar. I had to constantly spread out the supplies to ensure no mason had to stop working to wait on me. Even when I was struggling to keep up, I still could keep the whole crew working.
Your recovery plan needs to do the same thing. You don’t have a lot of manpower; you don’t have a lot of money to spend. Spread your constrained resources across your entire process or workflow. It must be intact and it must be functional (albeit a minimum viable process—MVP).
Get back to the basics—remind yourself what you do and why. Map out your business, its critical workflow, and then start distributing your resources to rehydrate it all. Envision your business as a pipeline. Lay it out, inspect it, fix its leaks, even if it only has the throughput of straw. Then, prioritize increased capacity according to workflow chronology—you must ramp up production and sales before you need to ramp up customer support. Run lean and redistribute resources to each part of your process as you increase the throughput of your pipeline.
Prepare Now to Succeed Later
Yes, my guidance is generic. But you are wicked smart—I’m sure you were already adapting my advice to meet the needs of your business as you were reading. My goal is to shift your thinking to recovery now so that you begin to prepare and seize your opportunity to recover.
Buckle in and get ready for the ride of your life.
Douglas McDowell is the SolarWinds Database GM. His primary focus is to advise the leadership team and Board of Directors in planning, research, business strategy, and analytics to ensure alignment with our largest partners, including Microsoft.