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Founder & CEO Matthias Schranner on Red Flags, Transparency and Confidence thanks to Bill Gates

May 05, 2020


Consulting will become hugely important when the complex post-crisis negotiations begin. Many people will lose their jobs, factories will close – new social planning with unions and solutions for the economy will be necessary. The summer will be quiet, but we’ll be working day and night come the fall. We are the first port of call when negotiations reach a deadlock – and it is exactly at this point that our insight and expertise is required. There will be many start-ups on the market at bargain prices and no end of M&A transactions.

What have I learned as a founder and entrepreneur? What will I retain post-COVID19?

We are a leading, internationally positioned company with offices in Zurich, New York City, Hong Kong and Dubai. And it was by remaining in direct contact with our people in Hong Kong that we were able to closely monitor the crisis unfolding in China. Unfortunately, I underestimated the speed and impact of this crisis, which led to delays in preparing our online workshops. We are now first in position to see the economic upturn in China, and are thus able to prepare for new business faster. After the crisis, we’ll push for more exchange between countries and encourage a more comprehensive communication strategy. We’ll begin by holding global meetings where we can all come together in one place; the most likely location will be Dubai. But first we need to get ‘back to normal’.

Red Flags
We'llbe able to evaluate early warning signs quicker and more effectively after the crisis. The sheer amount of work and success that we had at the time made it difficult for me to evaluate the warning signs from China to the extent necessary. There will be ‘red flags’ in the future, and every team member will be asked to raise those flags at the first sign of trouble and inform me immediately and insistently.

Unlike most other companies, I didn’t set a positive signal along the lines of “we’ll get through this together and come out of it stronger” at the beginning of the crisis. I communicated the seriousness of the situation, spoke openly and clearly with all employees, and took any necessary action immediately. This meant that we had to make the severe but, in my opinion, necessary decision to lay off several people, including some who had been with us for many years. Open and honest communication is indispensable and something we’ll certainly be keeping.

Play to win
Admittedly, I wasn’t feeling very much like playing to win during the first weeks. I went through the 2008 financial crises as a start-up without financial reserves – a challenging experience – but this crisis was even more challenging because of its unpredictability. Whenever I enter one of these thoughtful phases, I read autobiographies or watch movies about successful people. I watched ‘Inside Bill’s Brain’ on Netflix recently, in which Bill Gates says in an interview that he always asks himself in difficult times what he can do. He says there are two possibilities: give up or work harder. Such interviews motivate me, changing my thoughts back to playing to win and working even harder. I would like to switch to this ‘positive thinking mode’ even quicker.

Upcoming Webinar


Free live webinar withZabeen Mirza,
Managing Director of Global Markets at Schranner Negotiation Institute

In the upcoming webinar CRISIS NEGOTIATIONS: PROCUREMENT we are going to discuss the following topics:
  • Crisis negotiations
  • State of procurement globally
  • Crisis sourcing approach
  • Crisis plan
  • Post covid business

Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2020, 8:30-9:30am EST

To register please email

New Podcast

EPISODE #9 OF 'DEADLOCK' IS LIVE: Negotiations in the Age of Innovation and Digital Transformation

Verona Vulcano, Sr. Sales Manager – Central Europe at Adobe Inc, a long-time partner of the Schranner Institute, sits down with us to talk about how negotiations have changed in this age of digital transformation, why we thought such transformation would be time-consuming, costly and unnecessary (the pandemic has certainly taught us otherwise) and what kind of innovation and opportunities she’s seeing around the world. A must-listen for everyone, but especially for those asking “what’s next?” as we navigate the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Listen to the new podcast here share and subscribe!


We look forward to having you join our global community online!

The Schranner Team