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More Business Perspectives from Hurricane Irene

hurricane ireneI live in Connecticut and the state suffered quite a bit more damage than had been anticipated from Hurricane Irene.  in fact, most of the eastern seaboard did, as we are not accustomed to storms of that magnitude.  It is similar to when it snows 1/4in every twenty years on Loop 410 around San Antonio.  The city just stops until the snow melts.  My town, in particular, was hit especially hard and we did not have power for a week.

Initially, it was chaos as my house developed a leak in the foundation and all we did for the first 36 hours was collect water by towel and try to keep up with the ever-creeping water expanding across the basement floor.  Ultimately, we did shore up the flood, albeit with the help of some excellent weather.  It’s always pretty after a storm, isn’t it?  The discomfort lasted a few more days and then we settled into a routine.

I found myself finishing a few books I had been meaning to but never had found the time to read.  My wife, the accomplished chef, simply moved from the stove to the grill.  My son, without the distraction of video games, found plenty of time to learn how to ride a bike and mastered it in 4 days.  My daughter slept.

It soon became apparent the television shows we thought we couldn’t live without we actually could.  Video games are fun but not required.  All of the junk food we had in the house seemed more a waste of space because we only had enough room in the coolers for ice and essentials.  We played more with the dogs and the dogs loved it.  My daughter slept.

It wasn’t entirely zen as we didn’t shower as often as we should have, the ice in the coolers was always melting faster than were were comfortable with and don’t get me started about the complete disappearance of every battery in the tri-state area.

What we did find, however, was the core of our family and the strengths of what we offer each other to maintain a healthy home.  We discovered what we truly need as apposed to what we thought was vital.  We reaffirmed the team that makes “US” and are the better for it.

I began to think about how this can relate to the business world.  More often than not, the changes over the last few years have dealt with reductions in force.  Sure, this will possibly change the atmosphere of the office for the better, (usually not), but there are other changes a company can adopt that may have more of an impact.

Firms have a tendency to spread themselves too thinly across a variety of offerings to its customers.  Taking a strategic look at what is working and what isn’t will offer possibilities of consolidating these offerings and maybe eliminating some less profitable ones altogether.  A firm should always bear in mind what its core values and offerings are and adjust as needed.  Customer feedback is important to decide what you may think the customer needs and what the customer knows is needed.  Always communicate.

Break the routine in the office and get to know each other again on a regular basis.  It doesn’t have to be every day or week, but it should be done regularly perhaps every two quarters.  Everyone has events outside the office that either drain or add to his or her productivity.  It’s is good to know what is affecting the staff and how that may affect the company.

As I said, not every experience the past week has been bad.  My family has now talked about unplugging for a week every year, as a result of our experience with the hurricane, as a time to regroup and catch our breath.  And so my daughter can sleep.

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