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061 – New Behring’s for trains off the rails

How do your leaders respond in a crisis? Is their strategy succinct? Listen to hear how by removing ambiguity and clearly communicating with your employees can make all the difference.

In this week’s episode of Anecdotally Speaking, Shawn shares a story he read in Switch, another book written by the Heath Brothers, who always use stories as practical examples.

The story is quite relevant given the current climate and the challenges companies are currently facing. You can use this story as a poignant reminder of what is most important in difficult times.

At the end of June, we’re delivering two virtual Story-Powered Sales workshops, hosted by Mike Adams, author of Seven Stories Every Salesperson Should Tell. If you are interested in registering, click here for more information. We would love to see you there!

For your storybank

Tags: communication, innovation, creativity, strategy

This story starts at 03:04

In 1995, Brazil began privatising their railroads.

The railroads were split into seven different branches and then auctioned off. A company called GP Investimentos Limited bought the southern line branch.

It was a management buyout, so the existing management ran it for a while.

The railroad was in bad condition, it was losing money, and it needed lots of repair. Some 50% of the bridges needed substantial repair, and 20% of those bridges were on the verge of collapse.

The technology was still from the Industrial Age, with 20 steam engines on their network. They knew they had a long way to go.

In 1996, Alexandre Behring joined the company as CEO.

At the time, people came to him with requests for funding to do different repairs, but he was in a desperate situation as the company only had 30 million reals in cash.

There was no way they could fix everything that was broken, so they had to come up with some sort of strategy.

To get out of their cash flow crisis, Behring and his CFO developed four rules for investment:

– Only invest in projects that will allow the company to earn more money in the short term;
– The best solution to any problem is the one that costs the least money upfront, even if it means a lower quality solution;
– Any options to fix a problem quickly are preferred over slower options; and
– Reuse and recycle existing materials.

They made clear choices and made it clear to their employees how to make decisions.

From that point to 1998, they lost 80 million reals. It was a desperate situation. But, by 2000, they were back into profit, and made a profit of 24 million reals that year. And it kept going from there.

It came down to creating clear constraints that ultimately fostered creativity.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.

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