Hunkering Down and Surviving Tough Times

#CSIA #Pauto

Bill Pollock is the CEO of Optimation Technology, which is, to the best of my ability to determine it, the second largest Control System Integrator in North America.

In 2002 in Myrtle Beach, Bill gave a talk called Hunkering Down...he's updated it for the current unpleasantness:

Leading in a CSIA Company

CSIA Leaders Run Companies They are Leaders

Leadership requires managing
Investors &/or Banks

Leadership requires managing setbacks and failure.

There are Three Types of People:

What is leadership? 

There are hundreds of definitions –
One definition is from Steve Farber in “the Radical LEAP”
“Love, Energy, Audacity, Proof”

Leadership is a Learned Skill

Learn from Others and Learn from

Leaders We Can Learn From

Steve Farber - Former VP Tom Peters Inc.
Attila - King of the Huns
Andy Grove - Former CEO Intel
George Stalk - Boston Consulting Group
Dogbert - Management Consultant
Lee Cockerell - Disney VP

CSIA is all About Learning and Avoiding Failure

Best Practices
Peer Groups


Leadership is about doing selfless acts.  It’s also about empty meaningless expressions.  Here are a few you should memorize:
Work smarter not harder
It’s a new paradigm
It’s an opportunity not a problem

Organize, List, Prioritize

We have lots of challenges; we’re very busy; we need to prioritize.
“Today, time is the cutting edge. In fact, as a strategic weapon.  Time is the equivalent of money, productivity, quality, even innovation.”  -  George Stalk

(Showing a slide of a skeleton) This is a CSIA Leader who worked though his wedding anniversary, four of his children’s birthdays, and his own funeral.

Time Management:

Eliminate unnecessary  tasks.
 Small amounts of wasted time add up.
 Make lists and work to them.
 Meetings can waste time.
 Effective meetings save time.
 When tired you are less productive.

Time Management:

  Organizational Structure
  Building a Management Team
  Evolving from Entrepreneur to Manager

Work ON your business, not IN your business...

But Lead By Example 
Be a doer - not just a talker
Be Involved
Be Informed
Be Strategic
The buck stops with You
You are the arbitrator of all major disputes


Build a culture---

Manage your own attitude first, it spreads.
  Happy people like to be together.
  It is hard to be too happy.
  Regular exercise has a positive affect.
  Attitude can’t be mandated. 

The Optimation Happiness Program:

“We often hire people for what they know and then fire them for who they are.”

Bits of culture...

Work should be fun.
  Work schedules should be flexible.
  Meetings should not be boring.
  Bulk email memos should be minimized.

Build a Culture---

Successful Organizations usually have several common attributes.
   the ability to grow and to change
   a well established culture
   a responsive, efficient decision process
   a vision and a defined mission
   committed, skilled, motivated people


They need Confidence
They need Leadership
They need Love

“Morale and discipline
are largely what the
chieftains make of it.” 




They want magic. 
They want us to take away their pain.
Without them we will fail.
If we are not able to manage them, we may need to fire them. 
Managing Change---

   “A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end. “ 
            Andy Grove

"Companies who play hardball use every legitimate resource and strategy to gain advantage over competitors.  They can then attract more customers, gain market share, boost profits, reward employees and weaken competitors’ positions." -- HARDBALL, by George Stalk

Employees are your team!

“Exploit your employees will to win.”
“Hardball is a team sport.”
“Are you playing to play
         or playing to win?”
   George Stalk

“Everyone is important.”
“Make employees your brand.”
“Create Magic”
  Lee Cockerell,
  VP Disney World


Investors and Banks

They want stability and they want profits – They need to be matched to your culture   - never take your eyes off the cash.


Some truth:

   “Momentary loss of self worth, confidence and determination are normal emotions that accompany personal loss.  Learn that you must pass through this misery to rid your spirit of depression.  Do not dwell too long on your bad moments. Learn from defeat.”     - Attila

A Couple of Thoughts:

“If you are going through hell, keep on going.”  - Winston Churchill

“Time does not always improve a situation”    - Attila

Remember that the economy is ALWAYS cyclical!

Don’t Think That Good Times Will Go On Forever.
Don’t Think That Bad Times Will Go On Forever.

Identify Hard Times and Know When to Hunker Down

Have a Reliable Tracking and Predicting System in Place.
Track Cash
Track Backlog
Track Profits
Verify Numbers with Financial Statements

When you see signs of a slowdown, ACT!

Avoid Denial.
The Failure To Recognize A Downturn May Be Your Biggest Mistake.
The World Is Littered With Bankrupt Companies Who Failed To Act In Time.

In hard times, focus on the bottom line, not the top line!

Focus on Cash Not Revenue.
Focus on Cash Not Revenue.
Cash is King.
Liquidity Will Allow You to Survive.

Recognize that things won't be what they were!

Remember That It Is Not How Far You Fall But How High You Bounce That Counts.

And remember that great leaders are able to brag about all the mistakes they’ve made and all the lessons they’ve learned.

In our service businesses, cost cutting is people cutting.

Morale is Important.
The Bottom Ten Percent Are Always Replaceable.

Closing thoughts.....

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” --Alan Kay

“If you reach your goal it was set too low.”--Ted Pollock