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The 2019 global pandemic plunged the global economy into the worst recession since World War II. At the time, the World Bank has forecasted that the world economy would shrink by around/about 5% in the following years.

Figures from the IMF paint a similar bleak outlook. In their World Economic Outlook (October 2020), they projected a deep global recession for 2020, with global growth projected to be -4.4%.

There is no doubt that many companies will have to overcome crisis and rely on leadership expertise to navigate change in the coming years, unless they can turnaround their businesses with strong and decisive leadership.

The more senior your management position is, the more important it is to connect the organization or the project to the outside world. You know, how does this fit in with what we're doing? What is the real goal, the real mission?”

– Alan Mulally, Ford CEO, 2006-14

1. Implement new leadership or a new company direction

Often companies are so entrenched in the ‘way of doing things’ that it becomes necessary to replace some top executives. This is not to say these leaders are necessarily bad or incompetent; just that they are so deeply involved with the company’s current strategies which led to decline, that they must own some of the responsibility for the crisis the company is going through.

These leaders might be unable to shift their mindset to make the shift to an operational strategy needed to turnaround the business. If they are unable to change their viewpoint, they could end up blocking the change that’s needed for the business to move forward.

It can be difficult removing people in key leadership positions from your organisation. However, when you do, it sends a clear signal to stakeholders that you are willing to make the necessary changes to implement a recovery strategy and that you’re not afraid to make tough choices.

2. Seek assistance from an insolvency practitioner

When an organisation is experiencing significant cash flow problems, it can be extremely valuable to approach an insolvency practitioner. They can help your organisation resolve its cash flow problems, to help you identify whether you need to cut costs, raise short-term finance to pay creditors or accelerate your receivables.

By the time you’re talking to an insolvency practitioner, things are likely to be pretty serious. But calling one in doesn’t necessarily herald the end of everything. They can explore factors like distressed business sales, seek alternative investment or spearhead a restructuring strategy.

Even if you don’t execute a full turnaround, working with the right IP can mean the opportunity to walk away with something instead of nothing.

    Have you thought about:

  • - An insolvency practitioner helping you to recover and salvage your business assets
  • - Am I working with the right type of specialist?


3. Raise external finance

Even for companies in crisis there are many funding options to hand. Depending on an organisation’s financial positon, they will be able to apply for different sources of finance. Consider debtor book realisation if you have a number of bad debts which you have given up on chasing. When in crisis, these debts could be worth chasing.

Framework Of Recommended Actions - Mobilising Institutional Capital


    Consideration points:

  • - Have you considered your sales ledger, turnover projections and accounts receivable?
  • - Have you assumed external funding is off the table?


4. Raise internal finance

Sometimes organisations just can’t find the right sources or external finance; perhaps they just don’t qualify because of the track record of their company, because they are inexperienced, or they can’t find the right source of finance to match their ambitions.

In which case it’s time to consider internal sources of finance. Airbnb successfully funded their operation through an ingenious scheme. Taking advantage of the 2008 Presidential race, they made political-branded cereal by hand, which they sold for $40 a box.

Their ‘Obama-Os’ and Cap’n McCain’s’ proved so popular, the founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia raised $30,000 and were invited to a training session by a start-up incubator and received training and $20,000 funding.

    Have you thought about:

  • - How have you assessed your current financing options?
  • - Have you exhausted all the ways to raise finance internally?
  • - Have you audited your operations and expenditure to identify opportunities for cost efficiences?
  • - Are there ways your brand can capitalise on a trend to raise finance?


5. Engage a business consultancy

A business consultancy has the ability to view your organisational strategy with neutrality and remove the ingrained and often unconscious bias to established strategy prevalent in organisations in crisis.

A business consultancy can take a step back and offer an objective view on what your company needs to do, not only to survive, but to truly thrive. Pangea SI, for instance, facilitates consulting engagements with custom-sourced and vetted subject matter experts to provide investors and strategists with valuable insights for a plethora of scenarios: forward planning, new market expansion, investment due diligence and technology research and development to name a few.

6. Form a business partnership

Forming a business partnership has many advantages for struggling businesses. First and foremost, you may gain access to financial support; a partner can help share the burden you are facing.

You will also be able to utilise the knowledge and experience of your partner in order to implement a new strategic direction to help you turnaround your organisation. In short, with a business partner, your decision-making will be more informed and more accountable to scrutiny.

    Consideration points:

  • - Have you thoroughly explored the opportunities for strategic partnerships in your sector?
  • - Are you effectively screening to ensure successful partnerships?
  • - Have you considered brand collaborations and affiliations?
  • - Do you have a reliable partner in place for your strategy development?


7. Client and market insights

Drawing insights from both the market (target and adjacent) and your customers (existing and prospective) will be critical.

It is important to talk with your customers. Ask them what they want from your company, and if the current performance is in-line with what they expect.

If the situation is serious and you’ve explored all other options, let your clients know; they might be willing to support you in a time of crisis if they are loyal to your organisation, and they will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you consulted with them at a time of need. Positive client feedback, testimonials or referrals can lead to new opportunities for your business.

Pangea SI assisted a renewable energy investment advisory firm to investigate wind project expansion into Asia-Pacific locations. Although they had a strong track record of providing investment advice around the North American and European markets to their members, they required deeper contextualised knowledge to confirm their recommendations on how to best move forward in this specific market.

As a result of their engagements with leading market experts, they were able to form a detailed solutions development and implementation framework for their investment clients.


    Have you thought about:

  • - How has the market responded to previous crises?


8. Rebrand

If your company name and brand is synonymous with the struggles your organisation is facing, a rebrand could change customer perceptions and ensure your brand is reinvigorated.

When a company rebrands, it creates a new business name, logo and marketing assets to develop a new brand identity that is differentiated from its old identity. This changes how your company is viewed by consumers, investors, competitors, business partners and other stakeholders, including employees.

In the energy sector, there is an interesting trend of dropping oil from the name of recognised oil companies. Norwegian oil major Statoil has recently rebranded to Equinor. They are just one of many oil companies to change their name, reflecting a transforming industry which is increasingly transitioning to renewable energy sources.

  • • 2017 – Danish Oil and Gas rebranded to Ørsted
  • • 2017 – Canadian International Oil Corporation rebranded to Hammerhead Resources
  • • 2016 – Laclede Gas rebranded to Spire

Currently, global companies are having to navigate the shift from traditional energy sources like oil, coal and gas to renewable energy. This is mainly due to the worldwide effort to tackle climate change. In the US, the shale revolution has led to a reduction in carbon emissions by 16.6% between 2005 and 2017.


    Consideration points:

  • - Could a rebranding exercise transform how consumers respond to your brand?
  • - Is your current brand beyond repair, or can you inspire consumer confidence with a new approach?


9. Review your recruitment strategy

It is important to recruit, hire and retain talent to your organisation in times of crisis. If you are going to change a few top executives, you are going to need to hire replacements or promote from within.

    Review whether your recruitment strategy is truly planning for the future:

  • - Do you have a succession plan in place, for instance, when C-suite executives call time on their careers?
  • - Do you even know how to identify and attract the talent that you need to lead your business out of crisis?
  • - Do you need an expert to help you identify the leadership challenges at your organisation because you are too close to diagnose fundamental problems?
  • - Have you identified the skills your company needs now and in the future?


Often the people that add the most value and impact to a change management process are from outside of the company, as they bring fresh thinking and new approaches.

What executives should consider when formulating a recruitment strategy:

    Create a budget for recruitment costs
    Create a hiring strategy and recruitment calendar
    Temporary and permanent requirements, factoring in strategic flexibility
    Work out where your skill gaps lie
    Determine future requirements, as well as current
    Ensure your employer brand and value proposition is attractive to talent


10. Strategy validation - constructively criticise your organisational plans

The key step to avoiding your business becoming distressed in the first place is to constantly, critically, and objectively, review your business plans.

Make sure you implement trigger points to review your plans, whether at the beginning of a year or the start of a three-year cycle.

If you have not had the expected performance or achieved a list of the most important things you’d aimed to by a certain date, you might want to ask yourself, should we step back and decide if we’re still following the right strategy?

    Have you thought about:

  • - Leveraging external expertise/outsourcing?
  • - Which external perspectives would help you to validate your strategy?
  • - What are the external “unknown unknowns” you haven’t considered yet?


In 2020, with the far-reaching impacts of the global pandemic and the worldwide recession that has ensued, it’s more important to look forward than ever before. Navigating change means making smart long-term strategic decisions, and paving the way to a more robust and resilient company that will be able to ride out future storms with ease and confidence.

Are you experiencing a period of change or seeking to implement a new operational approach?
- Mike Callis, Director

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