Crises are often the starting point for change. And change communication is therefore an important cornerstone of modern corporate communication.
In connection with Chinese pragmatism and optimism, it is often pointed out that there is one and the same character in Chinese for the two terms “crisis” and “opportunity”.
But this rumor is as widespread as it is false! For Chance the Chinese mostly use the character combination 机会 (jihui), for the term crisis aber 危机 (weiji). The sign 机 is present in both terms. And 危, with which the symbol for “crisis” begins, corresponds to the first sign of danger, which should not be overinterpreted either. Because single characters usually have many meanings in Chinese and only the combination of at least two characters is really unambiguous. What a pity: for once, we cannot learn from the Chinese that crisis and opportunity are one, that the crisis is also the opportunity for change.
In fact, from a communicative point of view, crises – just like fierce growth processes or company relocations – are nothing more than forks where paths separate: some lose, others win. But those who only rely on reactive methods, such as reducing costs and adjusting their resources, will not get very far. That’s because the world behind the intersection definitely looks different than it did before: markets are changing, competition is repositioning, customers are adapting their needs portfolio. Crises are always fundamental processes of social change. In short: after a crisis, different products and qualifications are needed than before.
In the global economic crisis of the 1930s, there were three major waves of insolvencies:
In 1930, those companies that were already weak before went bankrupt. They are the first to be affected.
In 1932 those companies died that were not prepared for the end of the crisis, that could not, for example, keep their employees in the crisis and could no longer meet the increasing demand.
In 1935, those companies went bankrupt that had not adjusted to the changed conditions of the economy and society after the end of the crisis, which, for example, wanted to satisfy the new changed demand with the wrong – old – products.
Therefore, companies must change during the crisis. Just as people change when they go through a life crisis: after the relationship crisis, after their first bankruptcy and after their fortieth birthday, they are different.
If we look at a company as a “personality”, as a person who arouses interest through their individual history, we quickly see that companies have to develop their personality continuously. At crossroads, i.e. in change management, there is a need for a fundamental stocktaking and “type correction”, for a new corporate story.