• 05/20/2020
  • Corona-Krise

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong …”

LIQUI MOLY Managing Director Ernst Prost on how to handle a crisis

Dear colleagues,

Something stupid or bad always happens … Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong …

But first for something completely different: You have probably noticed that every day at lunchtime I have a plane with our advertising banner in tow flying over Ulm and especially over our company. A little greeting to our hometown and a big thank you to all of you!! And great fun for only € 250 a pop :-) :-)

But let’s get down to the topic for today:

A company is like a human body. There are strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes diseases … Some characteristics of the body lead to high performance and other characteristics lead to discomfort, pain or even death. Our task is to build up the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses. Just doing one thing and not doing the other doesn’t really help – no matter which side you turn to. It is important to continue to emphasize the strengths while eliminating the weaknesses. I think we do this well, because we are also very honest and ruthless with ourselves when we analyze our strengths and weaknesses. There’s no point in sugarcoating a problem.

From time to time, there are also illnesses, then neither the body nor the company is as it should be and as you would like it to be – and sometimes everything just comes thick and fast. But diseases are also part of life and the development of a company. And as with any good, responsible doctor, the diagnosis should be before the treatment. Is the disease a pimple on the buttocks, which is not nice and also quite annoying, but does not need further treatment because it is not life-threatening, or is the clinical picture a dangerous change in the whole organism, the whole company? Then of course you have to approach the matter differently. And this is exactly where we are now! Corona is giving us an extremely hard time.

Some diseases can be lived with, some must be treated, others must be eradicated root and branch, so that they do not cause even greater damage. Nothing should be taken lightly. Many a pimple has developed into a tumor. Therefore, always keep a close watch and intervene in good time! “Prevention is better than drilling” – you all know that old dentist motto. And “Beware of beginnings” – one of my favorite guiding principles – you also know.

As with any illness of the body, the soul and also the spirit, it is also important for the company to always remain optimistic, to hope for the best, not to give up, and to do everything to get well again. Illnesses are part of life and crises are part of business. As far back as I can remember, there was always something that you didn’t necessarily want, couldn’t use, but that happened nevertheless. My strategy: Don’t panic, complete your tasks in a calm and objective manner, and solve the problems energetically. Get the job done with perseverance and confidence, diligently and highly motivated every day – if possible, also cheerfully and with a sense of humor. Inform yourself, learn, look ahead, and then tackle the task vigorously. And that is what I recommend we all do.

Murphy’s Law, as stated in the headline, will thus lose its terror. If you are aware of the situation, you can adjust to it and you will not be disappointed or surprised. It’s all a question of your attitude to life and work and, of course, a question of your mindset. The way I see it, what with corona and lockdown, we’re not very healthy right now. That’s why we have absolutely no time to rest, no reason for satisfaction, and certainly no justification for amusing ourselves with fine fretsaw work – we need to get out the chainsaw, dear colleagues! I like things to be perfect, friends, and not half-hearted … What’s more, I am a very bad loser :-) – I always want to win, together with you and our business FRIENDS all over the world!

And therefore I ask you to always think projects and activities through from the end as well as from the beginning. In other words, in terms of the result, in terms of the effects of our decisions for all those involved. Of what happens as a consequence when you start something. (Or don’t do something).

Please think carefully about what it means for us in the long term before everyone runs off. (Or stands still.) What will a project cost in total? How long will something like this take? What is to be done? What does the decision mean for us and for our customers? And the crucial question: Is it even necessary and sensible? Planning horizons are usually too short-term. If things then go wrong or we are surprised by something unplanned, this will be a case of “if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail” … Please think three times before you start with anything: what is the issue, what could happen, what the whole thing means, what it benefits us, and what has to be done to reach the goal! Even our resources are finite … Time is money, and every form of waste is a sin.

At the moment, we are tormented by all kinds of unpleasant constraints. Essentially, all the upheavals can be traced back to the corona virus and the decisions and reactions of global politics that went along with it. The fear of fear itself … the panic over panic, and the all-too-human but sometimes even irrational behavior: The disease, the economy and psychology … We now have another fine mess in the form of an economic crisis. There’s no denying it: Collapsing profit in almost all industries, at thousands of companies. Losses, bankruptcies, short-time work, redundancies. Individuals, companies and whole countries are being sucked into a terrible downward spiral.

What to do in a crisis? Absolute concentration on the essentials! No unnecessary little games. No wasting of time and money. And no time to chase white elephants or build castles in the sky. We now need the pragmatists, the workers, the makers and shakers. “All hands on deck” is the term used when a crisis means that every single worker is urgently needed – precisely to solve that crisis.

I’d like to make this very clear: If we don’t deliver 100% peak performance over the next few months, then we’re scrap … So please carry on fighting together with me as splendidly and passionately as you have done since the outbreak of this crisis! For this, you have my heartfelt gratitude!


Ernst Prost