Business Strategy

Build to Bounce: The 6 D’s of a Strong Contingency Plan

crisis leadership

We have been keenly struck by the grace and dignity that people around the world have shown during the COVID19 pandemic.  As we all address economic uncertainty, we must remember to not only manage the present but to also “Build to Bounce.” Whether the recovery is fast or slow, the economy will recover with time.  Organizations that balance cash conservation with strategic investing will come out ahead of those that rely on cost cutting and cash cows.

What path make sense with all the market uncertainty? In the 2010 HBR article, Roaring Out of Recession, the authors found that organizations that cut costs selectively, mostly through operational efficiency rather than slashing staff, who also matched cuts with targeted investment in R&D, marketing, and technology had the best post-recession growth. Our experts agree and add one more tactic – don’t forget to help, and engage, your employees.

Engaging employees in the implementation of multiple contingency plans – the Six Ds – will help employees find some certainty in these uncertain times, and to feel empowered.

The 6 Ds of Contingency Planning

  1. Decentralize
  2. Debt reduction
  3. Decision-making speed
  4. Digitally transform
  5. Distribute workforce
  6. Develop employees

During an economic downturn, invest in your employees’ capabilities and challenge them to develop their leadership skills while they help the organization implement the 6 D’s.  While they grow their individual capabilities, they can help innovate new markets, products, and approaches.  Some corporations are reporting a reduction in employee engagement while working in a virtual environment.  Leadership development online, virtual executive coaching, combined with strategic development projects; will keep employees engaged, growing, and helping the organization move forward.  Employees find security by participating in decision making – and they’re often better positioned to understand options in essential tasks like driving operational efficiency. Rather than take a top-down approach to reducing costs, which can result in the wrong cuts and demoralized staff, organizations can decentralize decision making and increase speed. Employees are better positioned to provide valuable insights on activities or waste, and working with them ensures that they are motivated to help the organization succeed. Similarly, employees understand activities that can benefit from investment in digital transformation.

And remember that people are facing increasing levels of stress.  Keeping them connected through leadership development is one way to help them build resilience and reduce feelings of isolation.  One healthcare partner has called mental health challenges the rogue wave of Covid19.  Over one-third of the population are reporting serious mental health impacts, sleep impairment, and anxiety about becoming ill due to Covid-19. Leadership development is part of the equation when you build to bounce.


Learn more from Barbara Singer, watch her recent webinar on the effects of COVID-19 on women’s careers


About the Author

Barbara Singer is the founder and CEO of Executive Core and leads a group of 150 global professionals whose mission is to more quickly innovate professional development. In the last 20 years, Barbara has worked with thousands of high-potential leaders around the globe at critical turning points in their careers, served EMBAC, UNICON and Part-time associations, and is faculty at the University of Notre Dame.