The current downturn in the economy and the much-anticipated-but-slow-in-coming upturn, presents companies with a unique opportunity for performance improvement. John Baldoni writes in his blog post titled, Use the Downturn to Your Advantage,  that this is the time for organizations “…to get rid of anything and everything that does not add value to the bottom line”,  look to employees, customers, and vendors for ways to improve operations, and model for all employees how to overcome obstacles during tough times.

All great advice; but I wouldn’t do any of this without data. Collect and analyze data that describes your processes from both a statistical and human point of view. For example, changing the work schedule to more hours over fewer days might look more efficient on paper, but if it takes an emotional toll on workers, it might not be worth altering. Survey employees, customers, and vendors and use that data as the basis for a conversation with them about improving operations. Ask them what measures would indicate effective operations. Use those measures to assess the change and to make decisions about improvement.

This is the time for radical change…as long as it is supported by evidence. Change simply for the sake of change will cause you to lose the trust of employees, customers, and vendors. Change that is indicated by the facts will gain you the respect of these stakeholders, even if they disagree with your conclusions.