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Time is running short to consider how to make the most of this unique opportunity to transform our business for a better future.

Things have turned very quickly. Only a few weeks ago, we were expecting to be in lockdown for six months. Now the worry is whether restrictions will be lifted too fast!

We are well passed at the Second Marker. The health crisis is under control. There is a plan to lift restrictions progressively. Assessment has turned to the loss of livelihoods as a result of the crisis and the looming economic storm that is growing darker by the day as restrictions remain in place.

The system has now completed shutdown. We are now paused as the system tries to reboot.

I suggested there are 5 markers on the journey to recovery. These 5 markers indicate how we need to progress in our business thinking in order to maximise the opportunity to thrive on the other side.

The 5 markers (described in the first article):

1.    Communities temporarily settled, uneasy calm.

2.    Restrictions start to lift.

3.    Business tries to restart, tentatively.

4.    Business pace accelerates.

5.    ‘New normal’.

The comfortable reflex will be to go back to ‘old’ and familiar patterns

For many of us, our business activities have been stripped back to basics. For some of us, business has been running at peak to meet the unusual circumstances. The ‘reflex’ as we hit the road to recovery, will be to re-set in our old, familiar, comfortable patterns. The danger is, these patterns were built for the ‘old’ normal.

What are you doing to make sure your business is purpose built for a post-COVID world?

As we re-open and re-engage, to start our journey on the road to recovery, there are basic tasks and activities we must do. These form a necessary part of our planning, as well as finishing getting our house in order.

At the same time, we can be shortlisting our big ideas. Ideas to reinvent and redesign our business as we start to rebuild [we looked at creating a great big ideas list previously]. This list will help us find valuable opportunities to rebuild our business differently, to succeed and thrive post-COVID. The next step will be to put together a rough plan to make sure your main ideas can be executed. Then, think of a few low risk ways to test or trial your key ideas.

Where do you want your business to be in the post-COVID world?

It’s hard right now to answer this question with confidence. There’s still a lot of uncertainty. Until we get clarity on what new normal will be, we need to work with a broad sense of where we want to be as a business. The best place to start is to understand the current environment, what looks different and where our business sits within it right now.

Passing the second marker gives us an initial view of our changed environment. A sense of where we are starting from–the new challenges and new patterns as a consequence of the crisis. It will not be definitive and continue to shift, until the fourth marker. But, now that crisis ‘free fall’ has stopped, understanding where we are now helps us to anticipate the challenges and opportunities ahead.

As we re-open our doors to recovery with the necessary basics, let’s find ways to test and adjust our key big ideas. Testing our ideas in the new environment, adjusting and adapting them as we go, will help us work out which ones are on target to make our business better into the future. From here, we can decide with more clarity where we want to be, fix our vision, define the outcomes and what the business needs to look like, in a post-COVID world. Then finalise the plan so we know how to get there.

Right now, we are in that awkward pause after shut down finishes, waiting to hear the comforting sound of the system rebooting. Start working out the plan towards your big idea, so that when economic reboot happens in earnest, we can execute our plans with conviction. We will need every ounce of conviction we can muster, because the economic storm that is coming will actually be an economic tsunami.

Calculated risk

There will be missteps. There will be wrong paths. We must constantly check, adjust and re-check our plans. As our confidence in the plan increases, so should the pace of executing the plan. The third marker will be upon us very soon. We need to be ready to ‘lock and load’ our plans and accelerate execution.

So where are you up to?

People Checkpoint:

  • What steps are you taking to stay clear, calm and connected with your people?
  • How are you empathising and caring?
  • How are you helping to build resilience?

In a world where our foundations have been challenged, having a clearing vision we can share, enabling our people to act positively and constructively towards that vision, going ahead and encouraging them along the way in the face of uncertainty, is the work of a leader.

Further resources:

  • Resources – feel free to download templates and checklists we developed for our business and our clients, such as: a post-COVID-19 Change Impacts List and SWOT analysis. No charge. No sign up. Go to the Resources Page.
  • Feedback – please let me know your thoughts.
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Michael Lin is Lead Consultant at Leadership Resources Consulting Group.