The art of fast, effective turnaround 

Martyn Strickland, Financial Advisory Partner in Deloitte Sydney sets out 10 tips to get faster results, saving you time and money when it really matters. Synthesised, from more than 20 successful turnarounds, these questions that Martyn poses are equally relevant to the Irish market.

“Many Irish company directors will recognise these problems and appreciate Martyn’s innovative solutions to them” says David Van Dessel, Partner in Deloitte Dublin’s Restructuring Services. “However, a great number of directors will also recognise these problems from their past and have lost, what could have been, very successful businesses simply because they did not recognise the early warning signs.”

  1. Are you working on your top three priorities? Leading a turnaround can be chaotic and overwhelming. Unlike normal  change  programs where you might have three years to restructure   the business, turnarounds always lack two things – time  and money.
  2. Are you in control… or are you being distracted? In the middle of a turnaround it’s easy to be distracted by external factors, such as a change in regulation, entry of a new competitor, or re-pricing by a major customer. Sometimes these external factors are root causes of failure or critical ‘hinge points’ that need to be addressed. However, in most cases these factors are out of your control and act as distractions.
  3. How can you win the war, not just the battles? Most turnarounds focus on the short term, but the best turnarounds also have a destination, a vision and a narrative. If the destination plays to the heart of your business, and is continuously reinforced in the minds of your people, then you are focused on winning both the war and the battle.
  4. Do you have a plan B? All of us experience doubt and uncertainty at some time in our lives – no more so than the person leading a turnaround. Too often we charge on, only to find ourselves heading for the rocks and out of options at the last minute.
  5. Are you managing your stakeholders well? Great turnaround leaders understand their stakeholders intimately – their team, their board, their shareholders, their bankers, right through to their advisers.
  6. How can you make better decisions when the pressure is on? When we are short of time we trust our gut feeling just a little more than usual, then live with the consequences. Successful turnaround leaders somehow make better decisions more of the time.
  7. Have you engaged your people in pre-emptive culture change? In a typical turnaround, culture change lags strategy by months. But people make or break a fast, effective turnaround.
  8. Are you cash flow safe? In many turnarounds it’s easy to go in and focus on the operations and trust that the business will survive and grow.
  9. Are you looking after yourself? Leading a turnaround is a stressful experience, for you and your people.
  10. Are you working to a system, or playing it by ear? It is easy for the stress, pressure and deadlines make you skip a step here and there. 
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