Value Creation in a Season of Crisis


Now that the pandemic is here, doom and gloom seem to be rampant. And with good reason. COVID-19 knows no gender, nor geographic boundaries. No one is immune.


All of us must hunker down and take all health precautions. For the foreseeable future!


Hunkering down does not mean watching news feeds or binging on streaming TV. All of that is fine, but at some point, you need to develop a plan of action. First, protect yourself and your family. Stay connected with your colleagues. Next, you need to consider how to pivot during the crisis and what to do differently after it.


In a time where opinions are in abundance, we wondered what research may show in a topic that not many are speaking or writing about: #CrisisResilience!


Crucial questions: companies


Toward that end, we will explore the two questions about companies.

  1. What companies are growing their business, either by focusing on what they do well or innovating with new offerings?

  2. What companies are thriving in the midst of a crisis--and more importantly why?

To understand how these companies succeed we need to understand their leaders, strategies, their previous preparations, their ability to pivot, and what makes their particular situations unique.


Crucial assumptions: leaders


Our initial thinking is that what distinguishes successful companies from unsuccessful ones is the caliber and foresight of their senior executives. We presume for the most part that they are highly motivated and highly intelligent.


In our past experience, we've observed that what distinguishes the winners from the also-rans is how they see themselves as business leaders. Inspired by McKinsey's article on organizational value creation vs. value destruction, and Liz Wiseman's work on Multipliers, we call them value creators and value diminishers.


We believe what distinguishes the two groups is this:

  • Value diminishers fear failure and so cut back to avoid risk; value creators embrace prudent risk in order to grow and scale their businesses to meet new opportunities.

  • Value diminishers focus on what’s only and immediately in front of them because that’s what they understand. Value creators look over the horizon because that is what’s new and different.

  • Value diminishers are comfortable with the status quo; value creators want to design and build something new and different.

  • Value diminishers need a roadmap to navigate. Value creators don’t follow a map because there isn’t one to follow.


Bottom line, value diminishers are comfortable with predictability. Value creators are excited by what comes next because it is not predictable.


The answers to these questions and assumptions will come from our research. As we proceed, we welcome your thoughts as well as any examples of companies you know that are doing well in now by positioning themselves for the future.


Just one example:


The coronavirus has strained hospitals' resources in hard-hit geographies while tripping up supply chains and production schedules. Last week, a hospital in Italy's Brescia region needed replacement valves for an intensive care device, but couldn't get one from the supplier on short notice.


  • Value Creator: Enter the CEO of an Italian startup, who along with a mechanical engineer went to the hospital, drew up schematics, and within hours 3D printed 100 valves that worked with the hospital's ICU device. It might've saved 10 lives.

  • Value Diminisher: If manufacturers are willing to share their blueprint reference designs, 3D printing could help plug the gap for specific components. But that's not happening here. The device manufacturer refused to release the design files, forcing the Italians to reverse engineer and 3D print the valves for about $1; the part normally sells for several thousand dollars.


3D printing, microfactories, and other cutting-edge manufacturing techniques could help industries with offshore production and just-in-time inventory that are essential to national coronavirus responses.


Crucial factor: resilience


Integral to survival amidst a crisis is the notion of resilience. Adversity can strike at any time without warning. It may flatten everything in its path. What happens next often depends upon how leaders respond. Those who rise to embrace it are scrappy, creative, and tough. Where some see trouble; they see opportunity.


Their resilience extends to those they lead. They set the example for how to embrace risk and deal with failure. Their ability to bounce back demonstrates an inner resolve that can be contagious.

Who we are?


Our partnership in this endeavor brings together three disciplines: strategy, human performance, and best practices research.


  • David Nour is a best-selling author of Relationship Economics and Co-Create, and a strategic advisor to global leaders in driving profitable growth, creating a culture of innovation, and making real change last. Originally from Iran, Nour came to the U.S. in 1981 as a teenager with a suitcase, $100 dollars, and no fluency in English.

  • John Baldoni is also a best-selling author and executive coach who has worked with leaders from the shop floor to the top floor. He focuses on helping women and men learn to lead with greater purpose and grace. Both are topics of his most recent books MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership and GRACE: A Leader’s Guide to a Better Us.

  • Louis Carter is CEO of Best Practice Institute, an executive coach to CEOs and organizational psychologist for Fortune 500 companies. His latest book is In Great Company: How To Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace (McGraw Hill, 2019)


We are excited about pursuing this research. We invite you to send us your thoughts. If you like what we are doing, feel free to “socialize” it through your favorite platforms and tag #CrisisResilience.


BTW, research, advocacy, and action is also the charter of our newly created Alliance for Corporate Resilience. We are searching for leaders from the government, public and private sector who would like to be the founders of a new alliance during this emergency situation to form plans of action, innovative ideas, and implement results-driven ideas to improve consumer confidence, serve at-risk populations rapidly, and restore balance to the economy.

Join us in this research adventure - we would love to hear of any examples you come across.

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