11.28.2008

HARD TIMES, GOOD MOVES

Crises, when survived, can become indelible moments in one's leadership development. I remember gutting through hard times at my old job five years ago: asking everyone to take on more responsibilities even though I was instituting an across-the-board pay cut, having to lay off 25 percent of our staff, and still having trouble believing we'd make it through. But even in the midst, my boss and I held out the hope that if in fact we did make it, we'd be the better for it as an organization, that changes we were forced to make because of cash flow difficulties would be proven in the end to be important decisions for the long-term health of our organization.

And indeed, such was the case, and the place is better now for, not just in spite of, those hard times. It is why CK Prahalad's "Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" is such an important read: it identifies that success will come to those who can make products and services for the very poorest in the world, because it will be those very firms that figure out how to squeeze profitability out of such low-end offerings.

And so this is the lens through which I read the City of Philadelphia's current challenges. It is why Rob Dubow's recent letter to the Daily News resonates with me so much. Although the City is about 4000 times bigger than my old place, and considerably harder in terms of public scrutiny. Let's hope that our fortunes turn quickly, and also that some of what is being done now because our hand is forced will be proven to be important changes for the long-term viability and efficiency of our great municipality.
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