Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

We all know the flight attendant’s instructions to “put your oxygen mask on first,” before helping others. Why is this an essential rule for ensuring survival? Because if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask.

In a corporate environment, I consider this to ensure that the business model and processes are working before embarking on a new venture, product, or market. With COVID, I see several CEOs, moving their organizations in new directions without the company having its core culture, business model, and processes working. With COVID, all CEOs are now what Ben Horowitz referred to as “Wartime CEOs.” To understand the difference, read Horowitz’s Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO. However, as a wartime CEO, you need a robust organization framework to provide the agility to win.

Without a robust framework, it will be difficult to:

  • know what is driving any change in performance;
  • push decision making down the chain of command;
  • be agile in responding to market conditions; and
  • make informed decisions.

Many companies have problems with their culture, business model, processes, or just the wrong employees. As I have said before, COVID is ripping back the curtain and exposing these weaknesses. Business leaders don’t have the luxury of ignoring them anymore.

Many CEOs I know have avoided addressing the problems within their organizations for years as the growing economy helped paper over them, and I think they hoped the issues would right themselves with time. This failing to deal with the difficult choices is a failure by these leaders because dealing with hard decisions is why they get paid the big bucks. As Ben Horowitz so aptly put it, CEOs make decisions that not everyone agrees with, because if everyone agreed, then they wouldn’t need the CEO. Now is the time for many business leaders to face those hard decisions and do what is right for the organization.

Examples I see are that plague some companies are:

  • Wrong people in the jobs they have. They need to be moved
  • No core values or corporate culture. During COVID there are more crises because “the employees are not stepping up.” This will get worse.
  • Bad financial reporting. You can’t change direction and know the results if your financials are 6+ months late or usually wrong.
  • No idea about the underlying product or service costs. Thus focusing on nonprofitable items and clients during a cash crunch.
  • Headquarters in another country has to approve all online content and publish the website and online stores; however, they are distracted and don’t understand the U.S. market. In this instance, there is no agility, which is essential.

If you are struggling with this, I would recommend joining a Peer Group like Vistage and presenting the issue to your Peers. When I was a Vistage member, I found the advice was what I deep down usually knew was needed, but hearing it from my Peers provided me no choice but to commit to something I was avoiding. Also, I would have to do it, as I could not face them again, having committed to doing it, but then backing out. As I tell Vistage prospects, “there is no public flogging in Vistage, but monthly humiliation in front of your peers may be worse!”

While COVID is creating chaos in many companies, business leaders need to ensure they have repaired their underlying problems first before trying to adapt. As the old French proverb says, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

 

Copyright (c) 2020, Marc A. Borrelli

Recent Posts

Five Ways to Attract Prospective Employees

Five Ways to Attract Prospective Employees

There is a war for talent. How do you attract talent to your company and have them apply for jobs there? You have to show why they should consider you, who you want, what you offer, and how your current employees feel.

Are you killing your firm’s WFH productivity?

Are you killing your firm’s WFH productivity?

Productivity remained during WFH with COVID. However, further analysis found that hourly productivity fell and was compensated for by employees working more hours. What was the culprit – Meetings. Want to increase productivity, have fewer meetings.

EOS is just that, an Operating System

EOS is just that, an Operating System

For those of you who are not aware of EOS, it is the Entrepreneurial Operating System. It seeks to improve businesses by getting six components aligned to enhance business operations. The six are: the vision the people the issues traction - meetings and goals...

What has COVID done to Company Culture?

What has COVID done to Company Culture?

COVID has affected everyone. However, companies need to examine if they have lived their core values during COVID, how they are reinforcing them in a WFH environment, and especially with the onboarding of new hires.

Profit ≠ Cash Flow

Profit ≠ Cash Flow

Knowing how much cash you generate is essential for planning for growth. Too many companies don’t know and when they grow they find they are continually running out of cash. Understand your cash flow generation and how to improve it through improvements in your Cash Conversion Cycle and using the Power of One.

What Are Your Critical and Counter Critical Numbers?

What Are Your Critical and Counter Critical Numbers?

The key to achieving long term goals is to define short term goals that lead you there. Focusing those short term goals around a key metric is essential. However, ensure that the metric will not lead other areas astray by having an appropriate counter critical metric act as a counter balance.

Do You Truly Know Your Core Customer?

Do You Truly Know Your Core Customer?

Knowing the profit of your core customers is key to building a growth model. Many companies have identified core customers that are generating a sub-optimal profit and so they cannot realize the profits they seek. Identifying the correct core customer allows you to generate profits and often operate in “Blue Ocean.”

The Greatest Own Goal or the Greatest Collapse

The Greatest Own Goal or the Greatest Collapse

The European Super League collapsed within days of launch due to hubris and the founder forgetting the key parts of their business model, value creation, sales, and value delivery. The collapse might bring a high price.