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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tsunamis, Hurricanes, and Economic Downturns

I was recently part of an Appreciative Inquiry Summit for local Cleveland Manufacturing as a staff member of WIRE-Net. Manufacturing has taken multiple hits over the years in Cleveland, Ohio and the recent downturn has made its mark. Lay-offs and closings are making headlines with equal regularity to other areas of the country. Yet, manufacturing is still the backbone of our nation. When a major manufacturing company announces cutbacks it has its effect on all of us. While newer "economies" are taking their place among manufacturing sectors, manufacturing still remains.

The economic situation we are in today was likened by many speakers at the Summit to the relatively recent tsunami in Phuket and hurricane Katrina. And again echoed by many as a time to drop pretense and come together for the benefit of all.

I believe there is a lot to learn for unlikely subject like economic downturns and natural disasters. Two great articles I found since the summit I have linked to this post

Have we learned our lesson from Rita and Katrina

What we learned from Katrina

So what can we learn from tsunamis and hurricanes that companies can apply to our economic downturn?

Preposition what you need - why is Southwest Airlines running in the black? They locked in fuel rates early anticipating the need. It's not too late to preposition today.

Create law and order in advance - how will you manage what you can manage when handling the other things that are out of our control. We can't change the economy, but we can control what we do in it.

Help those who need it most - we are all in this together and need each other in good times and bad.

Set up a command center - centralize communication and decisions to focus on problem solving

Keep leaders on alert status - it took former President Bush four days to visit the devastation of Katrina and visited before hurricane Rita hit the shores, and we all know the outcome between the two.

What can we do to handle our tough situation? I welcome your comments.