A Harvard Business Review study 4,700 public companies looked at the three years before, during, and after several recent recessions (including the recession of 90/91). They divided companies’ responses – their “driving” strategies – into four categories:
* Prevention – a focus on cost cutting, with every decision viewed through a loss-minimization lens. Companies in this category do more of the same with less, often lowering quality and customer satisfaction.
* Promotion – a heedless optimism that ignores the gravity of the situation and early warning signs. Companies in this category add features when customers desire greater value.
* Pragmatic – a haphazard combination of prevention and promotion characteristics. These companies tend to over rely on reducing the number of employees.
* Progressive. These companies get the prevention-promotion balance right by evaluating every aspect of their business model, making near-term changes that reduce costs now and after demand returns.