Re-engage and redesign first ~ Abaster

21 January 2009

Re-engage and redesign first

Yes, the inclination in hard times is to slash costs and headcount. However, this is counter-productive longer term as it does not provide for a springboard for success when the upturn comes. So how does a business ride out the storm and increase its opportunity for growth when fair weather returns? Before implementing drastic measures that could impact performance in the future, consider re-engaging and redesigning.

To re-engage means to getting back in touch with those that make or break the business: customers (retain them, above all), employees (empower them to bring about change), suppliers (reassure them), etc. Recession brings retrenchment and fear, so re-engaging with these communities is essential to business survival. To re-engage also means looking anew at the brand, positioning and how well the organization tells its story - see here for an interesting take on consumers and brands in a recession.

To redesign means to look anew at products and services, and at the systems and processes that allow for the functioning of the organization. Why? Because any organization, in good times or bad, should be seeking both greater efficiencies in terms of resource use, manufacturing processes, logistics, overall operational costs, etc., and greater levels of consumer centricity (user centered design) in the redesign of products or services. Its just good business sense.

So re-engage and redesign before knee-jerk cost cutting and headcount reductions. Reinforce relationships with those communities that are critical to business success. Find efficiencies across the organization that will not only lead to cost reductions but will put the business in better stead going forward. A recession can be an opportunity to build a more resilient and better-positioned organization for future growth. It was in the 1930s!

(Notice that the "I" word (innovation) was not used once. But, for an excellent read on innovating during the recession see here. )

Further reading on design and the recession: Design Council