The Coronavirus probably represents the greatest battle any of us have had to face in our careers as business leaders, due to the combination of the speed and intensity of its economic impacts.
This has triggered most managers into a frontline style tactical management position where long-term planning has taken a temporary back-seat, and decisions and actions have largely become reactive.
In addition to the daily business challenges we’re facing, we also have a constant stream of confusing information flowing from both the government and media, creating the impression that the rules of engagement are continuously changing.
With all this going on, it’s natural to be feeling overwhelmed, stressed and maybe even a little scared.
However, there is a way you can proactively move through this.
We’ve spent the last several weeks dissecting the available information and looking at tactical management models to help our clients make the best possible decisions and implement them as effectively as possible.
This has boiled down to two main frameworks. The first of which you can use to build your strategic understanding of the situation, and the second to develop your tactical and operational responses:
- Phases of the Outbreak
- Functional Business Response
Starting with the first framework:
Phases of the Outbreak
There are four likely stages that businesses will need to endure as the Outbreak passes through.
- Shutdown — As governments implement escalating lockdown strategies, the economy rapidly shuts-down the majority of normal operations. Businesses react, but most over-react causing a self-imposed (toilet paper style) panic to reduce exposure and cut costs. The workplace looks and feels very different, if it’s operating at all. Government and regulators offer aid, but its effectiveness will be unknown, and at best, will soften the initial blows and hopefully hasten the Upturn.
- Waiting Game — The sickness spreads, the normal economy has stopped, we’ve either stopped working or are attempting to work from home, but there’s not that much to do. Businesses and people’s cash reserves are dwindling, and everyone struggles to make ends meet. We’re at the peak of stagnation.
- Upturn — Sickness begins to recede, the reality of it has been experienced and accepted, the community begins to build immunity, both physical and emotional. People, through necessity and pure desire for normalcy begin to move back into their normal habits. They eat out, start to go shopping, driving their vehicles, taking their families out, visiting friends and family and the money-go-round begins to spin again. For many businesses, this will be a prime time for fast, smart strategic intent and execution.
- New Normal — Many businesses will have failed completely, their owners having run out of funds, or courage, or both. There will be orphan customers and market share waiting for the ones who survived. B2B and B2C attitudes and behaviours are likely to be different, and they will be different in different ways for each industry. There will be opportunities here too. Now is the time to get back to long term strategic thinking but with a need for fast operational execution to make the most of the new market opportunities.
Functional Business Response
Each of the 4 phases will require slightly different approaches to the fundamental management areas of your business. As you move into and through each of the 4 Phases of the Outbreak you should be reviewing and updating your approach to these 8 key areas of your business.
Specific assumptions, realities, conclusions and actions need to be implemented around a core set of operational considerations for your business. These will include but not necessarily be limited to:
- Financials — Remodeling and restructuring revenue and break-even models
- Strategic Threat and Opportunity Assessment — What are our realistic revenue and service options?
- Team — Who is critical, how do we manage communication and morale, share the load, engage, stand-down — implications for stages 2,3,4
- Operations — What needs to continue, how do we practically & safely deliver, what can we do without, what is non-negotiable, what can we improve, how can we capitalise on opportunities?
- Suppliers — What is essential, communicate, maintain relationships
- Support — What support is available to us e.g. government, ATO, banks?
- Marketing — Decisions around timing and opportunities will be critical
- Sales — How do we adapt and capitalise?
Businesses that answer each of these core questions effectively throughout each of the 4 Outbreak Phases are the ones who will experience the greatest wins as we emerge from the other side of this outbreak.
If you can successfully apply these thinking frameworks and translate them into actionable outcomes for you and/or your team you will demonstrate strong leadership and most likely have weathered the storm much more successfully than most.
The3rdgear has developed a structured, systematic approach to planning and implementing all of these core elements for your business.
If this is something you’d like to take advantage of we’re automatically offering this planning process as part of our regular service to all current Clients during the Covid-19 crisis to ensure you have the best possible chance of not just surviving the crisis, but thriving on the other side.