From The Editor

Making the Best Out of a Terrible Situation

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MCN Editor Dan Markham Making the Best Out of a Terrible Situation

There is a cynical phrase in politics – and, let’s face it, virtually all phrases are cynical once pols get their grubby paws on them – to never let a good crisis go to waste. It’s a philosophy followed extensively by both major parties in the United States, and likely elsewhere.

The quote, as so many of the memorable ones are, has been attributed to Winston Churchill. Alas there’s no concrete record he ever said it. Apparently, misattributing quotes to famous people predates social media.

But the idea itself, when removed from the drainage ditch that is partisan politics, is not without merit. Using the change in circumstances that arises during a period of upheaval makes for an excellent time to re-examine, re-evaluate and retool an organization, a system or a philosophy.

Or a business.

Right now, many of you are probably facing business conditions you haven’t seen in a decade. You’re facing operational challenges you’ve never faced in your lives.

Many of you may be holding on for dear lives, praying for the virus to run its course, either naturally or through human intervention, and for the economic conditions and business practices that have governed most of your time in the industry to return. Your only goal is survival.

Nonetheless, now is also an outstanding time to explore just what your future business could look like. Sadly, you probably have a little more time in your day to devote to such exercises.

How might you change? Perhaps you should reexamine your own supply base. Are the advantages offered by your current metals suppliers quite as valuable in the face of future business disruption?

How about your policies on worker safety and illness? Is yours a culture that, perhaps silently but unmistakably, encourages employees to “brave” illness and make it to work, and should such attitudes be reconsidered given the effects of the pandemic?

Finally, there’s the work-from-home option. Some companies have long fought allowing employees, even those whose presence is not necessarily required in the office, to work remotely. In those cases, there’s a sense, not entirely unjustified, the employees in question may not devote the same attention to work they would from the office. Has the pandemic sharpened this point of view, or have you realized that many employees can be just as productive when left to their own devices?

Along those lines, while the current COVID-19 crisis thrust work-at-home options upon us rather quickly, how can you better prepare for that option – operationally, structurally, digitally – should a second wave hit and send us back sheltering in place?

I hope against hope that all of you make it through the pandemic. But doing so isn’t enough. We should all strive to come out the other side, in some ways, better than we went in. ?

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