THE RESILIENT LEADER- RESTRUCTURING: Real stories from real C-suite executives, holding no punches.

THE RESILIENT LEADER- RESTRUCTURING: Real stories from real C-suite executives, holding no punches Blog


Let’s face it. No one has all the answers. We have questions, nagging thoughts, worrisome concerns for the future. As we navigate together the murky waters of a new normal during the COVID-19 crisis, sharing insights and advice across the business community is essential.

Surviving the business crisis will require most businesses to embrace restructuring their organization for the foreseeable horizon. It is a crucial step most businesses must take to minimize loss and maximize long-term viability. It is not easy, or painless. 

Many organizations are in phase one of this journey. Workforces are working remotely. Downsizing and furloughing are happening. It is inevitable that in many ways, work will never be the same. As a leader, you will never be the same. 

We talked to a CEO to see what his biggest concerns are about restructuring his organization during this crisis. Here’s what he and his CFO are struggling with the most, and how they are putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe you can relate? 

Will it be enough? 

When this crisis hit, we hustled to re-forecast our next four months, assuming little to no revenue. Those projections told the story of what work would not be needed during that period. Absorbing the magnitude of the steps we would have to take to survive this, took me several beats to process and internalize. This has been an around-the-clock effort, so I have not completely processed it. I’m not sure that our employees, our leaders, or I ever will be able to fully get our heads around this. It’s complex. Hopefully, this is a once in a generation catastrophic event.

Sticking to our core values, we created a minimal viable operating plan in order to survive the sixteen weeks, and still be viable on the other side of this thing.  We simultaneously adjusted our business models, operating plans, and re-emergence game plan. We worry if those quick steps we took will be enough.  

Basically, we have to go back to our roots. We are doing more, with much less. We are operating in a bit of start-up mode. Everyone that is working must wear multiple hats. There are certain aspects in our business that do not go away because of our furlough. The work still has to get done, now at an accelerated pace, without much of our team that helped carry the load. The workload consolidates. We are forced to be disciplined about our priorities and have zero tolerance for spending any energy or effort on less than critical priorities. 

At the same time, we are confronted by the personal toll it takes on our team and our customers. These are our people’s lives, their livelihoods. The decisions we make today will affect our employees, their families and our customers for a long time. We do not take this lightly. We want to be viable when this is over and continue to live out our vision and values every day.  

We continually re-project our estimates, specifically our cash and supply chain forecasts. Just because the country “re-opens” in no way means that we have smooth sailing ahead of us. Our supply chain is going to take a very long time to get back to a predictable flow. Assuming that we can really be back to business by end of June, the impact the supply chain stoppage is going to have will take us at least the following three quarters to recover, and that is if everything goes fairly smoothly.

We run, and re-run, our scenarios models at least weekly, and sometimes more frequently than that. As each day emerges, we have more questions than answers. We add onto our scenarios daily. 

What if the sixteen weeks goes longer? What if our customers do not re-engage at the rate we projected in our re-emergence game plan? What if we cannot bring back all of our furloughed employees when we need to because they decide not to come back or they are sick? How do I balance the workload, priorities setting, and revenue shortfall when considering organization shifts-–both furloughing and restarting? What pace is the right pace? My teams are resilient, but how do I really measure breaking points when everyone is remote? What accommodations are going to be necessary when we do get back to the new normal? With all of these questions rolling around in my head, it’s been very insightful to have a sounding board with whom I can bounce around my ideas and concerns. Access to a truly confidential, Fortune 500, CEO has been a godsend. I can share my questions and together we bat around various scenarios. 

This time is chaotic, frustrating, and challenging, but the actions we are taking are necessary. We expect to weather this storm together with our employees and our customers. Reaching out for trusted advice on burdensome issues, helps broaden my perspective. It can only help as we continually tackle the myriad of challenges we face, and that change daily. We cannot yet answer the question, "Is it enough?" I think our planning and scenarios are stronger and broader than they would have been otherwise, because I choose to not go it alone.