Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ten Steps to a Business Turnaround

I haven’t had the time yet to report on the “Comebacks that Last” conference held at the U of T's Rotman School last week. There were some quite revealing presentations, but even those that were less than forthcoming still contained worthy insights. (Did you know that Ronald McDonald got a wardrobe makeover?)

The point was to learn from businesses that had been “to a dark place” and tried, in an orderly and strategic way, to come back. Among those businesses: TD Bank, the Hamilton Tiger Cats, Canadian Tire, the Art Gallery of Ontario, McDonald’s, Maclean’s Magazine, and others.

I’ll blog later on some of the individual presentations, but the overall lesson was this: coming back from the dark place takes courage, commitment and knowledge.

Here’s a rough draft of the Ten Steps in a Successful Turnaround:

1. Acknowledge the problem.

2. Find a new management perspective (i.e., the people who got you into the problem are rarely the ones who can get you out).

3. Measure the problem. (You need the "before" metrics so you can set some goals.)

4. Study the problem. (Include customers and employees in your research, as well as standard sales and production metrics.) Understand what’s not working.

5. Build awareness of the problem and a commitment to change.

6. Come up with a bold plan that incorporates new goals, new targets, new customer benefits and new ways of doing business.

7. Create buy-in for your plan inside and outside your organization.

8. Don’t be afraid to demand bold change (e.g., some top performers at TD had to accept a new system of compensation). Without attitudinal and behavioural change, your new new plan will not work.

9. Segment your objectives. Celebrate each success. Reward change.

10. Be ready to do it again, because comebacks never last. Dark times are part of the business cycle.

Which is why turnaround management matters so much.

1 comment:

Bill Reimer said...

i love your ten steps for a turnaround... I had the pleasure of doing a turnaround for the Canadian Innovation Centre, Canada's premier technology assessment organization... you are right on with the go bold or go home approach... and implementing quickly after the assessment phase is very important...

today i'm involved in another type of turnaround... the marketing department rather than business.

(The company is in distribution... never seen such a sleepy marketing space as that played out in IT distribution... old tired, over used tools like e-blasts, focus days and such.)

I've been brought in to change the game... for my employer... and the market space... and for sure... we will go BOLD!