Crisis Situation? You Have More Time to Act Than You Think.

Jacob Meacham

SVP | Head of Engineering at Mindbody



"I was working at a company that had a significant problem during one of our builds. The defect required reworking one of the hardware boards which would have put us significantly behind our scheduled launch. The investors, the CEO, and the CFO were quite upset and wanted a solution to the problem as quickly as possible."

Actions taken

"Earlier on in my career I would have acted as fast as I could to the crisis. Luckily, I am not the same person I was back then. Nowadays, I take a more practical approach. First, I took a deep breath. Next, I figured out how much time I had before I needed to act. Then, I went to everyone who had important information and used that material to put together a timeline. The timeline stated exactly what decisions needed to be made and by when, including decisions that could be deferred. For example: I needed to make Decision A in 2 days, Decision B in 4 days, and we could defer Decision C for one month. Afterwards, I went and did a lot of listening. I talked to as many people as I could, I listened to what they thought was the most appropriate solution, and gathered everybody's honest assessment. I used the time I had available to assemble a list of the best possible paths to take along with the risks of following each of those routes. Finally, I acted. The younger me would have acted right away, but with my experience I knew that I had more time than initially anticipated and acted 3-7 days later than I would have. In this case, it turned out that there was an alternative path that though it had some risks wouldn't meaningfully change the schedule if it failed. So I pushed us down this route, and it succeeded. We were able to ship on schedule."

Lessons learned

  • "I think in the midst of a crisis taking the time to assess before acting is often a grossly missed step. You almost always have more time to act than you might first expect."
  • "Figure out which decisions need to be made and when they need to be made by. Then use all the time you have available to make the best decision imaginable as opposed to running headlong into the thick of a crisis and trying to decide something as fast as possible."

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Jacob Meacham

SVP | Head of Engineering at Mindbody

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership TrainingFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthSkill Development

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