Crisis-driven change

The opening quote of Francesco Guerrera’s Analysis article in this morning’s FT caught the eye, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” (but then I don’t work at Citigroup, so hadn’t heard it before).

What struck me, however, and what is applicable to law firms as much as any other business was this,

Experts argue that although most companies see the need to reform in a crisis, many embark on the wrong kind of change. A common mistake is to go for across-the-board job and cost cuts that weaken the company without sharpening its core businesses. “The first thing you have to do is to protect and strengthen the core,” says Bain’s Mr Rigby. “In the same way our bodies allocate blood flow away from expendable extremities in favour of vital organs during a crisis, companies must make sure their best markets and consumers are protected.”

Driving change may be easier in times like these, but, as Guerrera notes,

In the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, companies face a daunting choice. Do they exploit the tough times to lose the ballast accumulated during the boom years and make risky strategic changes in the hope of emerging as lighter but stronger organisations? Or do they adopt a defensive stance, trying to weather the storm without rocking the boat until their markets and the economy rebound?