Leading Through a Turnaround: Part 1

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Leading Through a Turnaround: Part 1


On two separate occasions, and in two organizations, God has positioned me to contribute my leadership towards ‘turnarounds’; applying new energy to steer an organization into a significantly different direction.

I’m often asked what I’ve learned. In both organizations I tackled the turnaround in three stages; which I would call Prepping the Patient, Surgery, and Post-Op. Today I’ll focus on a few ‘do’s’ I learned from Prepping the Patient. I’ll follow later with a few ‘Don’ts’, as well as insights from the latter stages.

Prepping the Patient



  • Recognize that the work you do before you implement change is critical and will set the stage for later success.
  • Analyze why the organization requires significant change. Remember, the finances are not the problem; they’re a symptom of the problem. In our current turnaround we identified three specific issues that were driving revenues down.
  • Spend time talking with stakeholders. Get as many perspectives as possible and look for common threads. You’re not looking for ‘a-ha!’ moments, you’re looking for patterns. In my previous organization one such pattern that emerged was that ‘vision’ and direction was bottle-necked near the top of the organization, and not filtering down through the ranks.
  • Listen to voices that may have previously gone unheard. Some of the most profound insights I gathered in both organizations I learned from those with the least influence.
  • Listen first and foremost to God’s voice. James 3:17 became a vital bible verse for me during both turnarounds.

Next time: Turnaround ‘Don’ts’ from the Prepping the Patient stage!

the author

Scott Cochrane

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