Even more impressive than the contributions of nearly a million pair of underwear in Houston is the story of the H-E-B grocery store chain and their efforts to continue supplying residents with essential needs post-hurricane.
The chain had over 80% of its stores operational despite the huge logistical challenges to do so. It was possible because of planning in advance, establishment of two command centers and a whatever-it-takes culture that empowered staff to operate outside the normal way of doing business. Volunteers came in from other H-E-B stores to help with stocking shelves. The manager talked directly with suppliers and even manufacturers to alter delivery schedules and instead take truckloads of the most needed products. The company took an intensely pragmatic approach: no frozen food, no floral, no variety – just the best sellers and as much bread, mops, bleach and water as was possible to receive. They used helicopters, contracted with the Army and would have used the corporate plane if Trump hadn’t closed the airspace.
I encourage you to read the fascinating full story for a back-of-the-house account of organizational mastery.
H-E-B brings disaster planning to a whole new level. While they could not plan for every situation, they knew what fundamentals to put in place in anticipation of pending crisis, and had the latitude to act once the disaster occurred. Would your organization be as simultaneously prepared and nimble?
Take a lesson from Houston H-E-B and division president Scott McClelland and take steps now to replicate parallel practices in your organization. You’ll be flooded with enough ambiguity if disaster occurs; better to prepare when you aren’t plugging the holes.
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Source: The inside story of what it took to keep a Texas grocery store chain running in the chaos of Hurricane Harvey by Chip Cutter on LinkedIn, September 2, 2017.