In Case of Emergency, Break Glass

Josh Linkner
May 17, 2020

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

As each day of economic free fall continues, many of us are struggling to figure out what to do next. Whole industries such as professional sports, corporate conventions, and vacation travel have been frozen in time with no full thaw in sight.

There are certainly some of us that need to embrace the most dramatic solution - to break the glass in case of emergency. Lawmakers refer to it as the 'nuclear option' when they make a legislative change that can't be undone and could come back to haunt them. For you, this could mean shutting your business permanently, changing careers altogether, possibly moving your family to a new home. These drastic measures may be required in some cases, but I'd like to propose a more subtle option.

Instead of breaking the glass, explore breaking the cycle.

Before social distancing and N95 masks entered your vocabulary, I'm sure there were some parts of your business that needed an upgrade. The current shutdown gives us time to put each element of our profession under the microscope to reimagine our approaches. Maybe retooling the prospecting method our sales teams use is long overdue. Or by really examining our production process, perhaps we could generate a solid boost in efficiency.

The COVID-19 crisis gives us the opportunity to take a hard look at our businesses, with an eye to breaking old patterns in favor of new ones. The old saying, "You can't rebuild the plane while you're flying it" come to mind. With our metaphorical planes on the ground, it's the perfect time to rebuild.

Maybe you've been holding on to legacy models, systems, or even people, but were having a hard time making a hard decision. If there were ever an opportunity to make the tough call, the pandemic is giving you a red-carpet welcome to do so.

Post-virus times may be very different than the previous landscape, providing you another opportunity to break the cycle. Thinking about the needs and wants of your customers after our hibernation ends is another area to focus on when exploring a break from previous approaches.

I understand the angst; I'm feeling it too. But let's not overcorrect and break the glass unless we absolutely have to. Instead, let's find ways to break the cycle, using this shut down period as a test kitchen to design a better future. Before breaking the glass, we owe it to our teams, families, and communities to first explore all the possibilities of breaking the cycle instead.

Stay safe, stay strong, and only break glass in case of emergency.

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