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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 18.12.2008
Contact: Kevin Yates, Managing Director
Company Name: Mitchell Phoenix
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8334 8042
Fax: +44 (0)1372 272859
Email Address: kevin.yates@mitchellphoenix.com
Website Address: www.mitchellphoenix.com

Mitchell Phoenix explain why CEOs should already be planning for how to take advantage of the coming upturn

You are in the middle of a chess game. The clever strategy you have pursued for the last twelve moves has just been destroyed. Unexpectedly, devastatingly, your opponent took your queen. You have two options. You can either make a new strategy for how you can win the game, or you can focus on survival and respond to what is happening on a moment by moment basis. What will you do?

Of course, you will make a new strategy. For a serious chess player, just the act of carrying on without one is an admission of defeat.

How far does this behaviour extend into the business realm? The credit crunch and subsequent downturn have dealt a deathblow to many optimistic strategies formed before the sub-prime disaster came to light. How many companies have reworked their plans and moved forward, and how many are too busy fighting fires to think about the long term?

Why bother? The end of corporate strategy…

It will be difficult to find a CEO without a strategic vision, one might think. Their position at the top of a company, like a sailor in the crow’s nest, enables them to see further than anyone else. Nevertheless, the argument has been made that the times have found strategy out: nothing we could have put in place would have predicted this, and therefore it is not worth making long term plans in the slump.

Perhaps a more persuasive argument is that it is useless to turn our attention to the long term when it is not yet certain that our company will survive. Why waste our time planning for 2010 when it is still unclear whether we will make it that far?

Dr Richard Atkinson, former CEO of Life Sciences, puts it this way: “if you are only focusing on survival now, you will die later.” As with our chess game, while one side concentrates on staying alive moment by moment, their opponent is executing a long-term strategy designed to win the match. Those whose aim is solely to get through the recession will get through it – but what will they find on the other side? Those with a longer-term vision will have seized the initiative.

An example from the UK car industry provides a glimpse of long-term strategic thought.

As the recession bites Vauxhall have suggested that they will close their factory for 9 months and keep the staff on 30% pay. Honda are closing down for two months with their staff retained on 100% of their wages.

Both these manufacturers place staff retention above redundancy in their survival strategies.

In the past, factory closures would almost certainly have been accompanied by job losses. Then, as the market picked up manufacturers would be unable to return to full production immediately. There would have been a time lag while new recruits were found, trained and moulded into a team. During this period, these companies would have lost ground to competitors who had retained their workforces.

The recession is over

“From the perspective of a CEO, this recession is over,” comments Atkinson, “the question is, how will you take advantage of the coming upturn?”

Despite the carnage still to come in the numbers, and the undoubted personal and corporate tragedies being played out at present, Atkinson’s argument is that for the average CEO, the recession has effectively passed. “If we accept that a CEO should be taking the medium to long term view,” he says, “then in February 2009 they should be looking to 2010 and beyond.”

Strategic Thought and Action

Kevin Yates, MD of management development specialists Mitchell Phoenix, echoes Atkinson’s view that CEOs should be thinking long-term: "It is expected of CEOs and most Senior Executives that they are strategists, and have some expertise in formulating and deploying effective strategies,” he says. “This is not always the case, however: most have no formal training, and some may have no experience at all in making strategic decisions throughout their career.”

Mitchell Phoenix have created a development programme to fill this need. Strategic Thought and Action runs a day a month for four months and is a complete journey from practical strategic thinking and strategic decision taking through to creating and implementing strategy.

The programme is different from its rivals in three key respects. First, existing strategy is placed under critical review by other CEOs. Second, theoretical concepts developed in the seminar room are taken away between each day and applied directly to the participants’ businesses. In this way each delegate builds skill and confidence while applying ideas to their own business, and crucially, by generating real business results.

Third, as the eight delegates on each programme are drawn from a variety of businesses, it provides an opportunity to interact with and learn from peer delegates from other organisations. A significant aspect of this is the simulated CEO review of the final strategy each delegate creates, in which the whole group constructively critiques each member’s work.

If our aim is to survive and prosper, attending Strategic Thought and Action would be a significant step towards securing our future.

For additional information, contact:

Contact: Kevin Yates
Company Name: Mitchell Phoenix
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8334 8042
Fax: +44 (0)1372 272859
Email Address: kevin.yates@mitchellphoenix.com
Website Address: www.mitchellphoenix.com

Mitchell Phoenix has been inspiring change in some of the world’s most demanding companies for over twenty years. We provide a unique and powerful influence that transforms the way leaders think and act. With offices in London, New York and Singapore, Mitchell Phoenix closes the gap between knowledge and understanding, bringing new insight and solutions. Our programmes build on core business strengths that are the source of all business results, and leave a permanent legacy both corporately and personally.

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