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by Mark O’Donnell


About six months ago at an EOS Quarterly Collaborative Exchange™, the community discussed the concept of The Reverse Accountability Chart.  The purpose of the tool is to prepare your organization for an economic downturn.

Most organizations don’t know how to prepare for a recession and they become paralyzed.  By teaching our clients The Reverse Accountability Chart, they are completely prepared for any economic downturn.

Typically we teach our clients to look six to twelve months into the future when creating their Accountability Chart.  The Accountability Chart is how we structure the organization with roles and responsibilities and put all the right people in the right seats.

Under normal circumstances, the Accountability Chart includes identifying empty seats in the business to facilitate growth. The Reverse Accountability Chart is the exact opposite.  What would the company look like with 50% less revenue?

Steps to Create Your Reverse Accountability Chart

Step 1 – What would your Accountability Chart look like with a 50% reduction in revenue?

Look at your current Accountability Chart and ask yourself how many people would you need to profitably deliver 50% less revenue than you do now.  We recommend using a tiered approach of 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50% drops in revenue.

You’ll want to consider the key employees you will need to keep at all costs.  They will be the foundation in which you rebuild. It’s not an easy activity and not for the faint of heart.

Step 2 – What would your budget look like?

After you’ve identified what your structure will look like, go through your budgets and prioritize all your expense cuts in the same tiered approach.  Prioritize what expenses will be cut and when.

Make sure you don’t cut expenses that will be important to your future.  For example, cutting your CRM that contains all your important contacts and customer histories is probably not a good place to start.

Step 3 – Plan to conserve cash

When disaster strikes, you need cash to survive.  Make sure you are conserving as much cash as possible.  You can do that by maximizing your lines of credit, cutting expenses, collecting on accounts receivables, and delay all payments as you can.

Step 4 – Create your communication plan

In times of crisis, you need to be an effective leader and communicate well.  As you go through the storm make sure you have a clear communication plan on what you will say to your people and when.  Write the script when you are level headed and clear.

Remember that everyone sinks to their lowest level of training under pressure.  Your people will be under pressure and so will you.

Step 5 – Everything is just an issue

All our EOS® clients have been trained to IDS™ all their issues and solve them at the root.  In times of crisis, those disciplines are more important than ever. Keep using the process to solve your issues and stay focused.  Don’t miss a quarterly session and stay within the Meeting Pulse™. If you can’t meet in person, do a virtual session. If you can’t do a full day session because you are conserving cash, do a half-day session.

Even a 40% reduction in revenue over a quarter is just an issue.  IDS it and get back on track.

Step 6 – Be the Lighthouse

Since you will be completely prepared for any crisis, you need to be the calm in the storm for both your employees and your customers.  Talk to your customers and clients and let them know you are completely prepared and they have nothing to worry about. Use your communication plan and stay focused.

By staying calm and focused you’ll be able to take advantage of opportunities that others will not be able to see.

In Case of Emergency (Only), Break Glass

Documenting your reverse accountability chart in an emergency response plan is a key part of being a great leader.  However, it’s not a document you want to publicize. Keep it under wraps and only break it out if you have to. In the event you need it, you’ll be glad you’ve already done all the thinking.