The Leduc-Nisku EDAtorial
Leduc Blog
Opportunities arise with downturn?
February 06, 2015
Barbara McKenzie
There is a lot of news on the homefront this week about layoffs, salary reductions, hiring freezes, shut downs and slowing demand.  Companies are retrenching, looking at the operations and working to do better with what they already have.
 
Oil prices continue to fluctuate even with the price of gas at the pumps rising again, but where are we really? Economists speculate on the duration of this downturn, whether oil prices will fall or rise, but the real answer is that we don’t know, so what do we do?
 
I recently came across a Linked In post by Jason Bekdashe, Principal of TransparentC who asked an interesting question, “Why Does Everything Feel So Slow?”, his answer got me thinking – “When we slow down, we panic. It's because we're used to a pace that is almost unsustainable. We don't know what it's like to go about growing our organizations at a reasonable speed….It's like we've been ‘going 220 kilometres per hour down the highway while everyone else is used to driving at 110.’ When we drop our speed, all we can think is: "Man, this is slow!"
 
So does the downturn provide an opportunity?  In his report to shareholders, NOV CEO Clay Williams essentially told shareholders “…"R-E-L-A-X, we're going to be ok."  He identified 5 key levers that NOV would pull to ensure ongoing stability, but the one that really got me thinking was this “NOV has been extended beyond optimal operational efficiency given high demand for their products the past few years. The company has been forced to rely on graveyard shifts, a great deal of overtime, and less efficient suppliers to execute. As volumes fall, NOV will reduce overtime hours, revert to the most productive shifts, and optimize their sub-suppliers for efficiency.”
 
When I began with the EDA and throughout 2014 the consistent challenge and refrain from business was we can’t find labour, we don’t have time to work on the business because we need to work in the business, it’s so busy.
 
So does this “downturn” provide an opportunity?  Even if Alberta unemployment rates go up to 6 or 6.5% we would still be the envy of most other provinces, over half of the US states and many countries around the world, including many in the European Union such as France, Greece and the Netherlands.
 
So what do we do this year?  Do we take the time to look at our operations, where can we be more productive, where can we innovate, where can we diversify?  Do we look at projects we have left on our desks for too long? Do we spend time documenting processes and taking a look at process improvement?
 
We take a moment to breath.  So ask yourself are we so used to going 200 km/hour that going 100 km/hour seems slow to us?