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Get a Handle on the Situation

The recovery leader must quickly assess the situation. Speed is important to arrest the decline. At the same time be careful not to worsen the situation through rash action. Hence, “getting a handle” includes both stabilizing and diagnosing. This task also provides the leader an opportunity to demonstrate technical aptitude and, thus, build credibility. A checklist of key tasks is below:

Provide some immediate relief. The leader must take action to stabilize the situation. This is done primarily through generic retrenchment techniques such as hiring freezes, deferring capital projects, instituting new fees for service, and more aggressive revenue collection. In more severe situations, the leader may need to take more drastic measures to reduce outflows of cash.

Diagnose. What is the magnitude of the problem? What funds are in the most trouble? What are the immediate causes of distress? How much of problem is short- versus long-term? To what extent does the solution require retrenchment versus strategic responses? Diagnosis is needed to develop the right treatments.

Set targets and measures. Define clear objectives and measures to judge the success of the recovery efforts. The measures should be simple, effective, and provide timely feedback – like bank balances, for example. Encourage the recovery team (and others) to look for innovations that will help you reach the targets.

Back to Leadership Tasks in the Bridge Stage
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