Recently I was asked by a writer to comment on the corporate leadership response to the changing economy. In an article in the Global Economist Review titled ‘Hope and Change in America: A Path to Prosperity or Broken Promises? ’ I’m quoted as follows:
Despite the apparent need for government intervention to ﬁx the mess we’re in, experts say existing corporate behavior isn’t politically motivated. “Corporations are grappling with the shrinking economy,” says Dr. Rick Kirschner, expert in personal and organizational development. Kirschner, the international bestselling author, speaker, and coach behind The Art of Change Skills For Life™ www.TheArtOfChange.com , feels that “no matter how skeptical or cynical companies’ corporate leadership may be about Obama’s leadership, they’ve got to be hoping he succeeds.” It comes down to damage control. No one wants to see the economy continue to tumble, regardless of their political afﬁliations or disagreements about how to solve the problems at hand.
Kirschner also points out that “at the same time, common sense says that expansion and contraction in the economy is cyclic, and that we’ve had a very long expansion, so the contraction will probably last awhile.” In other words, no one in the corporate world is expecting this to go away overnight. Here’s the skinny: corporate executives may not expect instant economic recovery, but they do know that recovery is coming. History tells them that. So what are they doing to preparefor the long-term? Probably not much, according to Kirschner.
“Decisions about layoffs most likely are made based on current conditions. Big picture and longer view thinking is rare in the corporate environment, and shrinking organizations become leaner and potentially more adaptable and responsive organizations. Fear is the main driver. As the saying goes, hope for the best, plan for the worst. It’s a shame, though. There is so much opportunity for organizations facing the future instead of backing into it.”
I think the article makes an interesting read, and you can read the entire article here.
I want to add that I think that short term thinking is the worst way to approach a time like this. Fear is often a self fulfilling prophecy. Act like it’s true, look for proof, and things become more fearful and dangerous. A more intelligent response is to take into account what has been neglected before and get to it, what was only imagined before and move towards it, what was rejected before and reconsider it. Amortize the cost of doing smart things the right way, and this is an opportunity environment the likes of which most of us haven’t seen in our lifetime. Yes, tread carefully. Yes, control your costs, and eliminate waste (always! That’s what any maturing ecosystem does!) But doing long term damage for short term gain, whether it’s undermining morale, alienating prospects or refusing to consider taking a few well considered chances is just dumb. At least that’s my opinion. Comments? I welcome them!