Navigating Through Turbulent Times: A Guide To Effective Business Management in Wartime Pt. 2 by Dmytro Kucher


Please find Part 1 here.

Basics of Wartime Management: Focusing on Your Team and Business Goals

In times of crisis, particularly during the war, it is crucial to consider various organizational and social factors in order to effectively manage the situation. The key factors are safeguarding the emotional well-being of your team, appropriate reassignment of roles, short-term planning, and swift adaptation to unforeseen circumstances. The role of crisis management, in this context, entails setting a clear direction, defining priorities, and maintaining regular communication even beyond the scope of the business agenda.

When considering updates to the corporate structure, it is important to base them on a specific business goal. Our experience has shown that a rigid hierarchy is most effective in certain business models, particularly those that involve offering a fixed set of products and services, where flexibility can be overlooked in favor of maximizing optimization.

However, it proves to be highly inefficient when it comes to managing risks and opportunities. As a company with thousands of clients, we had every reason to move away from the traditional corporate hierarchy. This allowed us to implement different business models tailored to various projects and decentralize decision-making, especially in situations where rapid adaptation to changing contexts was crucial.

We transitioned to a flat organizational structure a while back, which enabled us to make most of our decisions locally. As part of this transformation, we implemented a system called “steam management” in late 2021. This system involves dividing all production and service-related work within the company into distinct streams. Each stream has its own owner, team members, defined Objectives & Key Results (goals with corresponding KPIs), and stakeholders.

Let me illustrate the process of setting and updating goals within our company. The involvement of the Board of Directors in every operational detail is neither practical nor necessary. Instead, their responsibility lies in shaping the company’s vision, establishing goals, and determining the strategic direction of our business. In order to gain the necessary context, board members regularly exchange news and maintain open communication with stream owners and representatives.

Working closely with the C-level executives, the board discusses changes and evaluates the feasibility of achieving goals within existing or new streams. Based on the feedback, the board of directors formulates final goals that are mutually agreed upon by all participants involved in the process.

By adopting this approach, the board assumes a consolidating role rather than imposing goals from the top down. We value the input and perspective of our colleagues, involving them in the goal-setting process for each department. As a result, our colleagues become more motivated and personally invested in achieving those goals.

Effective and transparent project management hinges on regular check-ins and detailed reporting. This systematic approach ensures synchronization across all streams in real time. With each check-in, the stream owner proactively updates stakeholders on the progress made towards achieving goals, highlights any encountered delays or issues, and can seek assistance if necessary. To facilitate better decision-making, dynamic dashboards offer clear visibility into the current state of essential stream metrics at any given moment.

This system played a crucial role in keeping us well-informed about the status of our team members and their families during the evacuation from dangerous areas. It provided real-time updates on their locations, the assistance they required, the availability of vacant rooms in Lviv hotels, and more.

Mistakes That Might Cost a Fortune

Regrettably, perfection isn’t attainable in the business world. Mistakes are bound to occur, particularly when juggling numerous responsibilities simultaneously, making long-term planning seem less feasible. The real concern is that some of these actions can have catastrophic consequences, impacting the reputation of the business and potentially leading to its closure.

Throughout my managerial experience, I’ve encountered different kinds of situations. For instance, on the day the full-scale war began, I found myself mentally paralyzed for four hours, unable to react swiftly despite being the team’s leader, even though setting the tone for the team should have been my priority. There were other similar instances, such as:

  • Transitioning from a rigid hierarchical structure to a holacracy, without setting precise goals
  • Losing several clients due to strictly adhering to standard written practices to the letter
  • Losing a major contract due to upholding personal principles

As time goes by and experience accumulates, it is possible to gradually find clarity, draw lessons from both personal and other companies’ mistakes, and steer clear of encountering the same issues repeatedly.

In the midst of stressful conditions, when the focus is on stabilizing the processes quickly, managers may act impulsively, potentially causing damage to the company. For instance, some companies attempted to continue “business as usual” despite the war, others resorted to harsh measures, like insisting their team works from bomb shelters and implementing pay reductions for the inability to be constantly online.

While the yearning to return to the status quo is understandable, it is important for executives to remain composed, keep a clear head, and focus on the bigger picture for the future instead of clinging to the way things used to be.

Mistakes are inevitable, but the key takeaway is clear: embrace continuous learning, accept and learn from mistakes, and find joy in what you do. Your work comprises a significant part of your life, and both the results and the process should be fulfilling and enjoyable.

Please find Part 3 here.


Comments are closed.