Tackling Opportunities in Moments of Distress

Economic swings come and go, but the harsh reality is that entities that flourish at one point in time might not necessarily do so in others, as has been evidenced in recent press. Although quite obvious, it’s important to remember that it’s not just external factors, but also internal management approaches that, over time, determine various outcomes.

Juan Ernesto de BedoutThe first thought that comes to mind during difficult times is that entities must tighten up, become leaner and more efficient, while drastically cutting costs and expenses. This is very important, but is it enough? Future success truly hinges on clarity of vision, crisp articulation of strategies for the pursuit of that vision, flawless execution of the plans derived from those strategies, and very importantly, passion and engagement to make the unthinkable doable. Nurturing entrepreneurship by providing freedom within a framework, such as described above, can also create a fountain of ideas and a sense of ownership that can make the best rise above their peers.

An extraordinary book entitled Blue Ocean Strategy written by INSEAD professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne can be a true source of inspiration of how an entity of any nature can pioneer new frontiers, creating uncontested market spaces that make competition irrelevant. To drive what the authors term “value innovation,” there should be clarity on what factors to eliminate, what to reduce or deemphasize, what to increase or heighten, and of course, what to create or where to invest to set oneself apart. This is a transformational process that can be applied at any moment but can be particularly impactful in moments of duress, and one that aligns perfectly with the innovative nature of the engineering disciplines. Purdue’s College of Engineering embraces such an approach in its strategic plan, focusing on priorities that will have global impact. As such, its programs are ever more relevant to the needs of the future and the preparation of leaders to conduct the changes necessary to succeed.

Additionally, I am personally convinced that in moments of crisis the talent influx must continue. To me, success is a function of how you surround yourself, and to cut the flow of talent during these times will almost certainly lead to future troubles of a different nature. The global diversity that exists at Purdue, with students, faculty, and staff from every corner of the world, together with the University programs that offer American students experience in and exposure to other cultures in far-reaching corners of the planet, provide a wealth of understanding and insights into how to solve problems in an increasingly global, but highly fragmented world. And what better place to look for talent than Purdue!