Bad economic times are upon us, but it's not necessarily the
time to make drastic changes in the way you do business. After
all, in time things will improve, and you'll want to return
to an intact infrastructure when it does. In today's article,
Paul Glen offers advice on avoiding some of the traps you may
fall into while attempting to improve your business. Don't forget
that your plans should be for the long haul, not for the moment.
I hope you enjoy the article!
Times May Not Call for Desperate Measures
By Paul Glen
Although it's clear that the slowdown in the economy has affected
us all dramatically, this is not a time to panic. For the first
time in a decade we've seen budgets slashed, projects cancelled
or postponed, both blue and white collar layoffs, and rising
unemployment rates. For those of us who remember the last recession,
it's been a long time since we've seen conditions like this,
and perhaps the first time we've seen them arrive so quickly
and unexpectedly. For those of you newer to the industry this
is probably like nothing you've ever seen before.
The temptation when faced with such threatening and unwelcome
conditions is to take drastic actions that would not be considered
under other circumstances. But often enough what seems to make
sense at the time often ends up being regrettable disasters.
Here are few things to avoid if all possible.
1. Taking on work that you know will turn out badly. Whether
you are a consultant or an internal employee it doesn't really
matter because everyone is faced at one time or another with
an opportunity to do work that you know you shouldn't. For consultants
facing reduced revenues and utilization rates the pressure can
seem almost unbearable to accept a project that you know cannot
be successful or to work with a client with whom you are fundamentally
incompatible. My advice is to resist the temptation because
most of the time things that you think will turn out badly will
turn out badly. And in the long run your personal reputation
or the reputation of your firm is worth too much to jeopardize
for short-term gain.
2. Draconian staff reductions. While tight budgets and reduced
revenue present an opportunity to correct hiring mistakes, it's
easy to get carried away and cut staff so deeply that you're
unprepared for resuming work when the economy turns around.
You should be very careful about making excessive staff cuts
that leave an organization a hollow shell. Remember that IT
is a knowledge based business and with every staff reduction
you're losing knowledge as well as damaging the motivation of
those who remain.
3. Canceling all investment. Tough times do require tough choices
and at this moment continuing to invest in a business can be
one of the toughest of all. The most common reaction is to simply
stop all forms of investment such as training or infrastructure
deployment or development. But this isnít a choice at all. By
not choosing you avoid all the difficult contention that prioritization
requires, but ultimately it is an abdication of stewardship
that harms an organization's long-term prospects. The toughest
choice of all is to separate critical projects and investments
from those that are just nice to have.
4. Forgetting to have fun. It's important to remind yourself
and all those around you
that we still work in a very
privileged industry and that work can continue to be fun. In
fact, it may be better at this moment and it has been for quite
a while given that most of us continue to earn comfortable livings
and now can balance our personal and professional lives more
easily than we have for years. Once the shock of the slowdown
wears off, things will begin to return to normal, not what we
thought of as normal in the late 1990's, but a more sustainable
normalcy in which we can thrive. But preparing to prosper in
this new environment requires careful thought to avoid taking
such desperate measures that might prevent either your personal
or your organization's future success.
About the Author
Paul Glen is the author of "Leading Geeks: How to Manage and
Lead People Who Deliver Technology" (Jossey Bass Pfeiffer, 2002)
and Principal of C2 Consulting. C2 Consulting helps clients
build effective technology organizations. Paul Glen regularly
speaks for corporations and national associations across North
America. For more information go to www.c2-consulting.com.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.