Don't you believe it ... recession can be managed

Over the past 18 months, much time, effort and money has gone into attempts by both politicians and businesses to resolve the financial crisis.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The benefits have been marginal, at best. Whether you're a world leader or the boss of a three-person firm, trying so hard to fix the economy is a bad idea. Here's why ...

Change doesn't stop in a recession. Your business has been affected over the past five years by technological change, demographic change, fashion trends, the rise of new economic powers such as China, and shifts in customer preferences. The recession may alter the direction of some trends, but it won't stop them.

You may win the battle but lose the war. There are things you could do that would benefit you in the short term but kill you in the long term. Maybe it's cutting back on product innovation, or marketing, or people development. If you don't know where you want to be in, say, three years, how do you know whether this surgery will be risk-free, risky or fatal?

You need to exercise leadership - to keep staff, customers or suppliers with you. And you do this against a background of uncertainty and anxiety, with less money to throw around. Who's going to believe in you if your vision doesn't go beyond survival? How do you motivate and inspire people if you have no story about what they are fighting for?

Business failures remain rare. For most of you, survival is not in doubt. If you behave intelligently, you'll still be there when things improve. The question is rather: what will you do then? Whether the current recession is a shake-up or a shake-out, the point is that it will leave things in different places. Where do you want to be when it's over? Alastair Dryburgh is head of Akenhurst Consultants -

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