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COO Perspective: Taking Action in Uncertain Times

A structural challenge

Frank Burkitt, Principal, Supply Chain Practice Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Look around the boardroom and you’ll see C-level colleagues working to get their numbers in order so the company is poised for growth. When they look back at you, they see the person who controls the processes that influence those numbers. As a chief operating officer (COO), how can you take the lead in moving the enterprise toward the post-recession landscape?

Things have at least settled down enough that you can move beyond near-term tactics and take bold steps that better position your company to compete. You’ve already taken head count and expense changes as far as you could without making structural change. Now, you can take the next step into structural alterations that will help institutionalize and retain the savings you realized in that earlier phase.

The focus on cash and working capital is here to stay. But in that environment, you can hone your customer and product profile, improve horizontal integration and hunt down inefficiencies. When those houses are in order, you can move on to consider plays in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), growth investment, research and development (R&D) and strategic moves to capitalize on changes in the market.

The cost of growth may never be lower than it is now, but as things move forward, you will begin to see increased competition as people struggle to seek new avenues for growth. No matter where you were before the recession, the battle for market position is up for grabs, and it’s likely the fight won’t be a long one — if you seek advantage, you’ve got a brief window to act.

Learn more about taking action in uncertain times in “Here Today. Where Tomorrow?"

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