The EllisDon Recession Manifesto

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith


OK, I have now worked my way through denial, anger, bargaining and depression through to acceptance: EllisDon has some tough sledding ahead.

But there are some key things we that we must do to both alleviate the impact and danger of this recession, and to come out of it strong and sprinting. There are threats, but there are lots of opportunities as well. Here are my reasonably determined proposals for EllisDon in 2009.

1. All Hands On Deck: There are really only three functions at EllisDon in a recession. We need to bring in new work. Or we need to build that work. Or we need to be effectively helping the people who are carrying out those two functions, because that's all there is. I acknowledge that my primary function at this company for the next eighteen months is to help bring in as much new work as possible, everything else is secondary. If you think you are a 'Leader', forget it, we need workers. The control functions exercised by our head office staff are more critical than ever in a recession, but even these must be exercised in a way that helps our job teams succeed.

2. Much Greater Speed: Everything - absolutely everything - needs to happen faster, and then even faster again. We need to do everything urgently. Don't set a meeting for next week, set it for later today. We will call clients right now, and get her what she needs, right now. We can move faster, we can force decisions and conclusions now, we can inspire others to move faster, and if they won't be inspired, then we will leave them behind. This is not just about brains, it is also a full out sprint.

3. Don't Just Find New Work, Create It: Think about it. We have the expertise to create financial proforma's for our clients, to design and build any structure to satisfy those pro forma's, and as much expertise as anyone else to raise the equity and debt to finance the project. We say to our clients: You tell me the rent per square foot that your tenant will pay and we will do the rest - turn key, guaranteed. Or this: One fellow in our R&D Department suggested that we analyse and show clients how recladding their building will have a pay back in energy savings, with the increased rent as a bonus. There are a plethora of sustainable building initiatives available to us. Here is our mantra: We don't just listen to our (prospective) clients, we do the thinking for them, and then show them the way. We will Innovate, at every single level of this entire operation.

4. We Have Built Great Relationships, So We Will Work Them: Of course, we will be in touch with everyone and learn everything we can. But when we are talking to you, of course we are interested in the facts; but what we would rather discuss is your needs, the dangers you are facing and the opportunities you see. We will get that conversation going, jot it down, and then figure out what we can do together. That's a relationship.

5. Everything Is On The Table: I have no idea what the world will look like when this is over, but for sure much conventional wisdom will be smashed forever. Great fortunes will be made by the 'first movers'. Three words: Fast, fluid, flexible. So we need to keep those ideas coming in. It needs to make sense, but we will never know if we don't put it on the table.

In truth, this recession is one of the greatest opportunities to excel that EllisDon has ever been given. We are going in strong, and we can come out stronger. We are going to outrun, out-produce, out- innovate and out think everyone else. We are going to work our buns off, but just think about where we can find ourselves when the dust clears.