Your company's tanking. Your biggest customer just went AWOL. Two turnaround experts who have brought companies back from the brink give us their recipes for rescue. Edited by Regina Fazio Maruca

GORDON EUBANKS
President and CEO
Oblix Inc.
Cupertino, California


Companies don't often get into "crises" in the real sense of the word. When you walk into a situation that requires a turnaround, usually what you find is a lot of internal bickering, people debating endlessly without making any decisions, a lack of confidence, and a very low energy level. You're going to see the molasses of indifference.

As the new CEO, you don't have to take some sort of "look at me" drastic action. Many people step into a turnaround and feel as if they have to fire a lot of people in their first 30 days to make a statement. That by itself won't help the company.

What you need to do is align people. Focus them on a goal that will take them forward out of the mire. Get senior managers concentrating on customers and competitors. And you need to get them focused on what the organization does well. You need to say, "We're going to spend less time debating decisions and more time executing those decisions." Then you need to do it. Strategy gets you on the playing field, but execution pays the bills.

Oblix Inc. builds software infrastructure to help clients use the Internet for b2B e-commerce. From 1984 to 1999, Eubanks was president and CEO of Symantec Corp., where he turned the company into a leader in the utility-software market.


NINA DISES
Chairman and Chief Creative Officer
McCann-Erickson
New York, New York


When you step into a turnaround situation, you can safely assume four things: Morale is low, fear is high, the good people are halfway out the door, and the slackers are hiding.