Time to hit the ground running

Winning in a Changing World
18 March 2010

Chris Verdonck Chris Verdonck

It is high time to move away from recovery after the consequences of the crisis to preparing for a still changing future. Three challenges will play a crucial role: the optimal way of dealing with the current climate, changing regulation and leaving your mark on the quest for durability. Partner Chris Verdonck at Deloitte shines his light on the how and why.

How can leaders of today handle this uncertain situation?

Verdonck: The crisis has shaken up companies’ priorities. Every crisis comes in three steps. First the wave hits you, and you scramble to hold on. In the second phase you repair the damage and create stability as a base for maximising the opportunities in the next phase: revival or pick up where you left off. Managers who want to anticipate for this phase as well as possible, must now think strategically and innovatively. Right now leaders are focusing on managing the direct consequences of the crisis. Of course it is vital to limit or repair the damage incurred. Stability and continuity must be protected at all costs. Current clients and markets must be secured to safeguard employment and the company’s financial health. All this is consuming vast amounts of energy from the top.

Is it not getting increasingly difficult to identify opportunities?

Verdonck: Most certainly. To pinpoint opportunities, gathering information on all market movements is now becoming more important than ever. Managers will never before have been as forced to think outside the box as they are now. Different options must be scrutinised in order to make an informed choice on which risks are worth taking and how they can be managed. We call it ‘risk intelligence’: dealing with risks in a savvy way.

The changing role of the government and rules is having an ever greater impact on corporate life. Handling this requires increased political and socio-economic insight.

Chris Verdonck, partner Deloitte

What part should the government play in such a changing climate?

Verdonck: During times of crisis, governments must steer towards more stability. Not surprisingly, their role has changed considerably. Governments today act as regulator, as shareholder, manager and financer. That is a new development compared to a few years ago. The question here is: is it permanent or temporary? And, is it lasting in a situation of increasing debts by European governments

What concrete impact will this new role for governments have on companies?

Verdonck: There are large differences between various sectors. The increased uncertainty of the legal framework in the financial sector as well as in the other sectors that can lead to instability: it is imperative to ask yourself what the impact on your business will be. There will be higher standards for compliance and durability: thoroughly verify if you are ready for it and estimate the costs. Finally, make a virtue of necessity and see if new regulation now in the pipeline can be used as a competitive advantage.

Who are tomorrow’s winners?

Verdonck: The changing climate requires managers to play a very active role on a short term basis but the search for opportunities in the long run can not lack. This also explains the increasing number of questions on innovation and a “risk intelligent strategy”, creating opportunities and growth for the future. Playing this climate as a trump card requires no small amount of vision and audacity, but these companies will be tomorrow’s winners.