New white paper shows how to gain competitive advantage during economic slowdown

From: Adaptation Ltd
Published: Fri Jul 18 2008

A period of economic adversity can create unprecedented opportunities for smart companies to secure competitive advantage according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas author of a new white paper ‘Coping with an Economic Down Turn’ just released by Cotoco. It identifies practical steps for reducing costs and improving performance.

According to Coulson-Thomas: "In booming conditions even marginal suppliers can pick up orders while more competitive companies can be held back by bottlenecks and shortages of good people. It’s at a time of recession when poor suppliers go to the wall that high performers may have the best opportunities to gain market share."

The Professor’s research reveals that effective management teams often respond much more positively than their less capable peers when the economy dips: "In periods of adversity it is often easier to distinguish winners from losers. The winners, or those most likely to succeed, often behave very differently from the losers who often compound their problems and trap themselves in a descending spiral of decline."

The new white paper sets out ten key questions which should be asked. It suggests savings should be made first in areas that are not critical success factors for key corporate activities, while a smaller number of people who are better supported can represent a preferable, achievable and cost-effective option for many companies.

According to Coulson-Thomas "While losers are focused on cut backs and internal restructuring winners are more likely to both seek economies and improve performance. The winners are prepared to invest in ways of securing competitive advantage. They position themselves to really benefit from the next upswing."

The white paper highlights the importance of understanding critical success factors for the activities that contribute most to corporate performance, and who the high performers are in these areas. It argues that key workgroups should be given the support they need to excel at activities that are critical for corporate success. Coulson-Thomas explains "Where this approach has been adopted returns of in excess of 20, 30 or 70 times the investment required have been made in the first year alone."

In addition to large increases in productivity, substantial savings in support and compliance costs can be achieved through the adoption of business performance improvement software. In some areas it may be possible to cut out wasteful expenditures and replace costly staff with cheaper and/or outsourced alternatives.

According to Coulson-Thomas, "With the right approach there are other benefits. Integrating working and learning is preferable to traditional approaches to learning and development, including e-learning. At the moment many employees are under great pressure. Making it easier for people to do difficult jobs and helping them to emulate the winning ways of high achievers can reduce stress at a time of uncertainty."

‘Coping with an Economic Down Turn: Positive steps to take when the going gets tough’ by Colin Coulson-Thomas is published by Cotoco Ltd. Copies can be obtained via or by contacting +44 (0) 870 748 1400. The white paper provides a checklist of questions for ambitious people who are keen to secure competitive advantage during the current economic climate.

Over 4,000 organisations have participated in Coulson-Thomas’ Winning Companies: Winning People research programme. The findings are consistent across sectors, corporate nationalities and different sizes of organisation. The results are summarised in ‘Winning Companies: Winning People; Making it easy for average performers to adopt winning behaviours’ (Colin Coulson-Thomas, Policy Publications, 2007). The book which gives examples of job support tools that make it very easy for average performers to adopt winning ways can be ordered from: or

Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas is an experienced chairman of award winning companies and author of ‘Winning Companies: Winning People’ (Policy Publications, 2007) and other books and reports. He has reviewed the processes and practices of over 100 companies, helped over 100 boards to improve board and/or corporate performance, and spoken at over 200 national, international and corporate conferences in 35 countries. He can be contacted via
Company: Adaptation Ltd
Contact Name: Colin Coulson-Thomas
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: +44(0)1733361149

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