System News
Crawford Beveridge on Recession as Opportunity
Breathing Space
February 25, 2002,
Volume 48, Issue 4

The Executive Perspectives article, "Using Recession as Opportunity" by Crawford Beveridge, (which originally appeared in on February 14, 2002), presents the viewpoint that the current recession offers an opportunity to reorder priorities. In the workplace, that can entail cutting costs wherever possible and focusing on what can make a difference to the bottom line.

However, according to Beveridge, it's important to note that as much as half your work force has probably never been through a recession. Therefore, the younger members of your staff need to understand that this current recession "is a business cycle--aggravated by acts of terrorism and other factors, but still a business cycle. Those of us who have been through this kind of thing before need to provide guidance, even as we remind ourselves what needs to be done."

And yet, even among seasoned executives, "there's a desire to dive in and try to fix all sorts of things all over the place," says Beveridge. However, there is no all-encompassing fix. Instead, focus on two, three, or four of the most important things to spend your time on that could really make a difference.

Reflection and reordering of priorities can pay off in the long run, Beveridge says. "If we take advantage of the opportunity we now have to examine our priorities and make sure we're spending money on the right things--along with the opportunity to develop a new generation of managers who understand what to do in tight spots--then we can come out of this thing stronger than we went into it."

Finally, according to Beveridge, "the lesson for young managers: the downturn as a blessing in disguise; it gives us the breathing space to be proactive rather than reactive, to figure out ways to get the company ready for the next boom. Once managers have been through a down cycle, they learn how to react. They learn things you don't necessarily learn if all you've been doing is growing."

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