I thought for my first post of 2009, Id start with a hypothetical situation about two imaginary competing companies contemplating what 2009 will have in store. While these companies are of a similar size and operate in the same space, their philosophy as to how best deal with the situation is entirely different. So why not name them after their individual philosophies. Let’s call the one company “Wait And See“ The CEO of Wait And See is a man by the name of Freddy Fearful. He listens to the media reports and reads the papers. He believes that his company is at the mercy of the downturn and this makes him very anxious. He learns that his competitors are in a similar position, which tends to ease his anxiety somewhat. When his employees look to Freddy for leadership, he stresses caution, saying that it is better to make no decision than a rash one. At the first team meeting of 2009, he tells his managers, that his plan is to do nothing for now and hope that the situation improves by the end of the first quarter. Let’s call the other company “Take Action Now“ The CEO of Take Action Now is a woman called Dawn Decisive. Dawn realises that there are many things about the downturn that are outside of control. She decides the best way to deal with the problem, is to devote her time positively impacting the pieces where she remains in control. At the first team meeting of 2009, Dawn details her plan to move the company forward. She announces a series of measures with the aim of adding additional value for customers. She talks about ways in which the business will adapt to deal with the situation. She communicates about the best way to handle the unknowns, stressing the important of being flexible and re-active in the months ahead. She asks her managers to instruct their account managers to approach customers to find out how the company can help during the downturn. Actions define Outcomes We all know which company is going to arrive in 2010 in better shape. My point being, there are many aspects of the current business climate that are unpredictable, there are many more that can be predicted. For business leaders, it is ultimately the aspects that remain within their control that will decide the overall fate of the company. Of course you should be careful of bad decision-making, but no decision is equally a bad decision. No know really knows how the overall economic climate will play out over the coming months and possibly years. What we can say is that individual businesses will be defined by the decisions they make and the actions that they take. Politicians should also take note.