Global response to the coronavirus seems akin to something straight out of a science fiction novel. Seemingly overnight, routines and social norms are anything but and conveniences readily available just weeks ago are now prized commodities.
As a new reality of the world around us begins to take shape in response to the pandemic, business owners must seize the opportunity to prepare for the days, weeks, and months ahead. The process involved isn’t complicated and doesn’t have to be executed with a high degree of precision. It is, however, essential for providing direction where a path likely doesn’t currently exist.
Assess Current Situation
In response to the global crisis, business owners at this point should have an understanding of where they stand in the spectrum of operational impact. The list of considerations includes, at a minimum, employees, clients, supply chain, and essential support systems. If all are intact, consider yourself fortunate and in the minority. If not, you should consider it a priority to find a workaround as the duration of current headwinds is unknown and could last for many months to come.
Assuming your organization is faced with needed responsive action or course corrections to maintain business continuity, it's important to get the sequence of undertakings in the right order. A simple format, and one used often in emergency management, involves a three-tiered approach to establishing priorities:
Priorities can and do shift. They should be reviewed often, and adjustments made as needed to achieve overall objectives.
With a tiered ranking of priorities, business owners can confidently commit resources knowing they are tackling the most pressing challenges facing their organization. In all likelihood, actions taken are non-routine and involve unscripted courses of action. Procedures or standard practices typically associated with management practices likely don't exist for reference and given the fluidity of circumstances involved are of limited value. Principles involving the company’s mission and vision for the future should serve as the foundation for all decisions and actions at this point. Most importantly, a response in times of need calls for courageous leadership. Leaders provide direction when the path forward isn't well worn or abundantly clear.
Few organizations will weather the current storm untouched. Those that do have a rare opportunity to grow from the experience and identify gaps in their current business model and ready themselves for the challenges ahead. While no one could have foreseen the exact circumstances involving our current situation, economic influences are inevitable and should be expected. Globalization provides a market opportunity of epic proportions. With great reward, however, comes great risk.
As the storm clouds begin to diminish in the weeks and months ahead, take time to learn from the experience. Recognize there will be other challenges. Your ability to overcome them with little to no warning requires an organizational culture resilient and open to change and a leadership corps capable of making needed transitions quickly.