Nuclear Winter and Surviving This Recession

Jan 30, 2009

Stumbled upon a fascinating chart that chronicles the history of government policy during past recessions. The graphs are broken down into the past five decades, with accompanying audio clips to attempt to explain what worked and what did not.

And as the recession starts to pummel Silicon Valley as layoffs pile up, “organizations are saying, ‘what is the absolute nuclear winter? Let’s plan for that. What you’re seeing now [are] organizations putting those plans into reality,” says Adam Charlson, senior partner at Korn/Ferry.

In a recent interview with BusinessWeek, Heidrick & Struggles International’s CEO paraphrased Charles Darwin to explain the economic circumstances affecting executive search.

Heidrick’s chief executive officer L. Kevin Kelly said, “It’s not the strongest or most intelligent that survive; it’s those that are willing and able to adapt and change.”

That’s why, in mid-January, he announced several changes to his $620 million firm: shifting toward consulting on executive retention; cutting executive search from more than 95% of its business to only 50%; firing 12% of its workforce; and slashing real estate costs by 30%.

Tom Neff, chairman of executive search firm Spencer Stuart U.S., says the spotlight should also be on boards of directors to take more active roles in response to the crisis. Every seat in the boardroom is critically important, says Neff.

“In light of the new challenges and uncertainties, what kind of talent and expertise is needed that isn’t sitting around the table today? More directors will be resigning from boards, particularly active executives who just don’t have the time or the stomach for this anymore. So boards need to be thinking ahead and have a pipeline of people they’re talking to who could be directors,” says Neff.

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