What is COVID-19 Teaching Us

Two major lessons we have learnt in the last 4 months; we as humans do not have total control and dominion over our environment and that we need to look after each other. Are there some, if any, trying to go back the pseudo-comfortable, non-sustainable, non-agile pre-covid era?

Yes, business will return as it always has, some will have been in the right place and the right mindset, with the right product/service to make the most of a catastrophe, for the rest of us it is not so good. The question is, what has been learnt and are we putting these learnings into practice. Are we evolving as people, as businesses and societies to manage this return to business.

There will be a huge number of specific lessons for businesses but with a broad brush I propose that we should, as businesses, have learnt some generic, wide reaching lessons and be taking actions to update our processes and policies to reflect the new normal. The obvious ones that comes to mind:

  • How do we keep velocity up in the decision-to-implementation process? We had a LOT of noise and extended project time within business, with the discussions, budgeting, planning and execution. Yet when time was seen as critical because of the situation we got things over the line in months instead of years.
  • Have all the contracts been reviewed and updated for new, realistic and versatile SLAs/KPIs, termination triggers and with flexibility to cover unexpected events.
  • Have alternative sourcing protocols been instigated. Have supply lines been reviewed for potential outages and solutions agreed with suppliers.
  • BCP (Business Continuity Plans) – this is the document that for so long was only given lip-service. So… has a BCP been drafted and in place, covering many, broad scenarios.
  • Have HR and WHS policies and systems been put in place that will ensure the safety and welfare yet effectiveness of all employees. Is WFH a new paradigm within the business? Has the working “space” been reviewed?
  • Cyber-tech. Any lessons here? Was software and hardware adequate (also the current trend for security breaches must be included). Did you manage without issues? Is this area a major part of your new BCP – what happens if there was a software COVID, a major, self-propagating virus that had no “vaccine” yet far more contagious than we have seen to date (rest assured, someone will be working on designing one). Most could recover but the outcome for too many could be fatal.
  • Psychological impacts and fallout from a major incident how are they going to be handled and addressed. People will be anxious and more focused on self-preservation (jobs and lives). Will there be an avoidance of risk, will this add value or limit the ability of your business to survive. Plus, the fallout will not just included employees, there will be multiple stresses placed on everyone within society, including suppliers, customer and investors. All will now have their own priorities.

Those are some of the lessons that I can quickly think of to date, there will be more as the economy improves for as history shows, the economy will not return like the slow turning of a tap, it will come in surges and waves.

So you survived the initial downturn, do you have systems and people in place who can work with agility and velocity to keep up with a variable, unknown return.

There will be changes in all areas of life, especially now as we have a second wave of COVID-19 rolling through many countries, reinforcing the fact that we are not as invincible as we thought and yet we are capable of stepping up when we have too.

Overall lesson: do we now know HOW and WHEN to step up.

How does business recover from CV19? – What they are saying

A common theme I am reading for any business trying to phoenix back from corona virus is the relationship between the business leaders/owners and the staff. Many are saying the future for companies will be based on the trust between the employer and the employees. It will be this trust that will enable companies to source knowledge and ideas that will either differentiate them from their competitors or allow the company to improve its ROE (return on effort). Having a few good ideas will no longer cut it as many of these will be based on pre-covid-19 virus (CV19) models. Ideas will need to be uninhibited, dynamic and rapid. The “I know best” attitude will become the antithesis to gaining ground after the CV19 period, it will probably even be before that.

Another theme is to use this change in business dynamics and market to take or even make your own opportunities. Business will not be the same as it was, for a multitude of reasons, so waiting to see what happens will be a bad decision> some businesses are now in survival mode, they are in their death throws and there may be nothing they can do if they stay the same. It will not be a case of jumping on the band wagon and make masks, or hand sanitiser. Yes, they were good ideas at the time but after CV19 is gone something else needs to take its place.

And many are talking of the change in relationships, people will begin to be more aware of others, to help and to care what happens in their community (at least a lot more than before CV19). There is also a lot of conversations at all levels – including Govt – about the need to acknowledge those who actually carry and hold up the economic and social world we live in, the nurses, the teachers, the supply chain people as well as the emergency service personnel – all those who have been typically paid the least. It behoves humanity to look after all those who add so much value for so little compensation.

More, very valid and informative information and articles have been written. I have found the following great, some have been enlightening:

After coronavirus: ‘We can’t go back to business as usual’  https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/apr/04/coronavirus-business-finance-work-property

Why companies need a role-based model in the Covid-19 paradigm
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/why-companies-need-a-role-based-model-in-the-covid-19-paradigm/articleshow/75139253.cms

How To Reinvent Your Business To Thrive After The Coronavirus https://www.forbes.com/sites/tedladd/2020/03/26/how-to-reinvent-your-business-to-thrive-after-corona/#6b0675e043e2

How the Coronavirus Is Already Rewriting the Future of Business
https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/how-the-coronavirus-is-already-rewriting-the-future-of-business

COVID-19: Implications for business
 https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/covid-19-implications-for-business

Coronavirus: your guide to winners and losers in the business world
https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-your-guide-to-winners-and-losers-in-the-business-world-134205

Finding the Hidden Business Opportunities Around the Coronavirus Pandemic
https://www.inc.com/david-finkel/finding-hidden-business-opportunities-around-coronavirus-pandemic.html