Someone forwarded me a terrific article from the February 2, 2009 issue of Fortune magazine. In it, Jim Collins, the author of “Built to Last” and “Good to Great”, notes the current economic volatility and uncertainty and states that such instability is in fact “normal”, as contrasted to the relative stability from 1952 to 2000, which he feels was an aberration.

Collins states that in order to succeed in such unstable times, organizations need a fabric of values, of underlying ideals or principles that explain why it was important that they exist. In addition, companies need to understand that it is the calibre of their people that will see them through and allow them to succeed. He gives examples of companies that have used difficult times to beef up their personnel, contrary to the prevailing trends. 

Collins observes that under duress, there is a tendency to “zoom in” on the immediate problem. His counsel is that, rather, we should be “zooming out” and looking at the bigger picture.

Collins gives some employee relations advice along the way. On the topic of staffing, he says that the right people don’t need to be managed. “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.” “The right people don’t think they have a job: they have responsibilities.”

In the context of estates, death of a loved one can indeed trigger crisis. Similarly, estate litigation can be seen as a time of chaos and despair. Maintaining an ability to “zoom out” and see the bigger picture can not only help us through these tough times, but can also help us use the crisis to grow as humans.

Thank you for reading.

Paul Trudelle