Thursday, October 09, 2008

putting out fires, dealing with ripples

Part of running a business is putting out fires - those incidents that spring up from time to time, unwanted and unbidden, that raise the difficulty level of a project or threaten the timeline or deliverables. Fires are a fact of life and dealing with them, over the course of years, is a matter of being to step back, analyze the situation, come up with solutions and implement those in a timely manner (of course, interspersed with varying degrees of panic, cigarettes and playful snark, mixed with black humor, because at the end of the day, you gotta laugh to keep things in perspective, even if it hurts to laugh - but that's us Filipinos, we deal with stress by disempowering it with humor).

One of the worst fires I had to put out was a couple of years back and I was not in Manila. My cell phone run out of power fielding calls coming in from client and my office and my own outgoing calls to my office and suppliers. Thankfully, things were settled after hours of mediation (and an understanding client). But I had a headache for the rest of the night.

Now it's one thing to be bedeviled with project-related circumstances (which at least I can deal with personally), and another thing to be on the receiving end of a ripple effect.

One of the biggest US companies, affected by the turn of events in the financial sector, went on a global downsizing. We serve one of their Asian branches, which was served notice that something like 60% of their people were being let go. Which triggered an end, for now, of projects from them to us, as cost-cutting and project rationalization are implemented. Ripples.

The loss of future revenue from our friends there is painful, yes. But even more painful is the fact that so many people will be out of work in the next few weeks - including our friends there, eliminated as if they were in some horrible reality show. With the economic downturn, I'm not certain of job opportunities in their country, but I can certainly hope for the best for them. They've been wonderful clients - zero fires - in the time I've worked with them. And have become friends, even though only via telecons and email.



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