Jim Collins: How Great Companies Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

It has been said that when a company is successful they tend to spend frivolously and don’t shutterstock_100113455pay as much attention to small details. However, when a company is faced with turbulent times they do whatever it is they can to save a penny and they analyze all of the talent they have on their team and keep only those they truly need. A perfect example of this is the dot-com crash; thousands of individuals were laid off and companies were struggling to keep everyone else on their payroll. Jim Collins, author of “Built to Last” and “Good to Great” shared his perspective on how great companies survive the toughest days in business:

So what did they do to get through the tough times?

“One of the things that was very distinctive about P&G, for example, was that they said a customer will always be able to depend on the fact that a product is what we say it is – we will always build our reputation on quality. When they were under pressure to start cutting corners or use cheaper ingredients, they just didn’t do that. What we have found is that what really matters is that you actually have core values – not what they are. The more challenged you are, the more you have to have your values. You need to preserve them consistently over time.”

But in a time of no credit and slowing demand, how does a company afford to bring people in?

“[Hewlett-Packard’s] answer was, How can we afford not to do it? You have to make the wherewithal. If you do not find a way to get those great people, you’re not thinking long term enough. In the long-term research into tumultuous environments that Morten and I are doing, we find that great companies manage for the quarter-century.”

How do you distinguish the truly great talent from the rest?

The right people do what they say they will do, which means being really careful about what they say they will do. It’s key in difficult times. In difficult environments our results are our responsibility. People who take credit in good times and blame external forces in bad times do not deserve to lead.

No matter how difficult of a time you’re facing you have to think of the future instead of focusing on the present. You have to believe in your organization and stand behind your philosophies. If you want to truly succeed during a difficult time, remember why you started your company and maybe that will reignite the fire!

How would you handle being in a turbulent environment?