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Business radar

17 September 12

How to respond effectively to an ever-changing business world and those "left field" events: (2) tips on establishing a procedure for responding quickly to unforeseen events

by Neil Forrest

What type of reaction process should be set up?

An event such as a competitor firm going bust, or two of your rivals merging, is likely to be a sudden event that you’ve not seen coming. Time is of the essence, from both a protective and opportunist perspective, so an evening meeting of partners the same day is a good starting point. Try to ascertain what the facts are and what is still unknown – information may drip out over a few days. A dedicated early follow-up meeting should be set.

What should our “quick reaction” process involve?

Once the key facts are clear, it will be appropriate to ask a few key questions and produce a short term action plan:

  • Do we need to take any protective action right now, such as client care?
  • Are there opportunities that come out of this, and how can we seize them?
  • What are the expected “knock-on” effects of the event, and do any of these constitute a threat or opportunity? Some creative thinking may be required here.
  • Should we make any public statements?

What about less immediate reactions?

At the same time as agreeing the quick reactions, debate should begin (at least at strategic level) about the less urgent implications of an event. Key questions would include:

  • Are there any medium term protective actions to be set up?
  • What steps should we take regarding any medium term opportunities, directly or indirectly coming from the event, such as new hires or training?
  • Do we need more analysis or information on the strategic impact, so should someone dedicate some time to this?

Neil Forrest provides strategy and funding advice to the legal sector and other business groups. 
t: 0131 440 4118; e:


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