Managing Through Difficult Times

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10 Jun 2020

Nothing Prepares You For This. Or is That Really True?

Written By:  Fred Depuy, Chief Strategy Officer

Come togetherEveryone thinks about their business.  It’s employees.  It’s financial health.  Achieving its vision.  Finding a breakthrough.  Being a good community member.  You name it.  There’s a lot that goes into owning, running, leading, and everything else that equates to staying in business and being successful (we all have our own definitions).  And then COVID-19.  An economy that just shuts down.  A world economy that just shuts down. And not over time.  Immediately.  What?

I’ve had the fortune to lead a global manufacturing company through two economic downturns (2008 and 2011), 911, and a horde of natural disasters. I’ve been part of the Young Presidents Organization, American Manufacturing Champion Clubs, Investment Committees, Board Advisory Seats, Pier Groups, etc., etc., etc. And nothing, honestly, nothing, has prepared our company for dealing with the current health and economic state.  Or is that really true?

The goal is to a) be cognizant of the individual hardships and challenges our employees might be experiencing; b) ensure effective utilization of our peoples’ time in alignment with the right priorities for addressing the needs of our clients, c) focus on the critical few operational and strategic initiatives that will help accelerate the company’s transition from our current state (services provider) to our future state value proposition (engineering and technology solutions provider), and 4) learn how to operate effectively and efficiently in the new virtual economy (less human touch and more remote interaction).

Here are some examples of what we’re doing at ARE to work through these uncertain times.

  1. Put the Team FIRST.  Really first.  Staying close to them.  Improving our listening and interaction skills with each of our employees in terms of what’s on their mind and how their ideas can keep the business on task and chin up.  Identifying leaders.  Making sure that the convenience, at times, of working from home doesn’t create detachment or the feeling of separation.  Avoiding poor communications across the company.  Keeping the focus on priorities.  After all, it’s the team and their resiliency to pull together during times like this that will, ultimately, determine the success of our journey;
  2. Finding the Weak Links in our Safety Systems.  Keeping the work environment, whether in the office or field, a safe place for our employees and clients.  Performing additional investigative and root cause analysis. Testing our methods and measures;
  3. Rebalancing the P&L.  Not on downsizing, focusing on the elimination of what’s non-value-added and identifying continuous improvement opportunities;
  4. Strengthening Skills for Need.  Taking advantage of the cross-functional skill sets and reevaluating their roles and responsibilities.  Reassessing our strategic objectives and how in the new economy it translates to new hires;
  5. Keeping Fuel on the Marketing Engine.  Doing more with less.  Finding the high return areas, i.e., webinars, blogs, application and technology insights, etc. that build on the company’s brand identity and penetration into new markets and applications;
  6. Investing in Training.  Keeping the eye on the ball.  Establishing the learning environment.  While we can’t bring in outside training, we are spending more time with internal training across individuals and teams;
  7. Investing in Capital Equipment.  Acquiring new technology, software and equipment to expand the company’s solutions offering and give us a head start fulfilling the needs of our future state value proposition;
  8. Increasing our Involvement in R&D Initiatives.  Getting involved with key client pilot programs for validating new ideas and application techniques; helping strategic partnerships advance their new product developments initiative through the appropriate phase gates;
  9. Developing New Strategic Partnerships.  Using the virtual office time to identify and foster new partnerships to jointly  advance our journeys toward the future state;
  10. Relentless Focus on Removing Waste.  Getting rid of what’s not mission-critical, becoming more data-centric in how we handle and process data and improving how information gets delivered to our clients, i.e., becoming easier and more cost-effective to do business with and;
  11. Bringing New Tools to the Market.  Especially in addressing the new virtual world of working together and address customer needs, i.e., project management portals to support clients in avoiding the challenges of handling large volumes of data and internal workflows.  Software…Software…Software (ARE’s AREview™ Suite).

No one action item has been the answer to all of our needs, but collectively, each has helped keep all of us focused and watching out for each other and the business. It’s also made us feel good to help one another be productive and add current and future value.  I’m impressed with what we have been able to accomplish together as a team.  It drives home the age-old axiom,  “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

If you’d like to learn more about how ARE can help you, please contact us at 603-427-9946 or click below.


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