Here we are, almost 3 months since COVID-19 appeared with significance in China and began first slowing then shutting down business there, and impacting global businesses and global supply chains. It’s been 1 month since the US and Western Europe have seen similar impacts and response – with “shelter in place” and “stay at home” orders taking effect. Life and business are significantly different as we enter the 2nd Quarter than the start of 2020.

So, where are we? And what will it take to navigate through this crisis?

Secure the business, people, and assets: A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the PEAR approach to leadership in crisis. It guides our initial and early responses to a crisis and focuses on safeguarding People, protecting the Environment, protecting Assets, and protecting Reputation. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here.

Assess & Execute the Current Reality: We’re here and we’re living it. The current business environment varies by business, region and industry. For some, particularly in high-demand services & products, business is booming and they are struggling to keep up. For many others, business is sloooow and they are furloughing employees, compressing cashflow, and monitoring next steps.

While most of us are settled into our current business environment, the current reality is not static. And, in addition to adjusting within our current reality, we need to get our people and our businesses ready for the next phase.

Planning the Return:

Businesses need to plan for the next phase of COVID-19 response — the return to our workplaces and the new business realities. There are still many uncertainties – timing of return and when “stay at home” orders will be lifted (although we’re starting to see movement on that in many areas), the new shape of the industry and business demand, availability of services along the supply chain, and much more. The return plans need to be both resilient (flexible, adaptive) and agile (swift and responsive).

In a recent survey by PWC, when asked how soon they expect “business as usual” to return following an end to the COVID-19 orders, just 1 in 5 CFOs expect business as usual within a month. Fully 40% expect it to take 3 to 6 months or longer.

How do you prepare for the future realities and unknowns?

Business should put a “return team” in place, with a defined leader who owns the plan and its execution, and make plans across multiple dimensions:

  • People
  • Customers & Suppliers
  • Supply – Demand forecasts and expectations
  • Manufacturing – Logistics – Supply Chain
  • Financial – Cashflow, Credit, etc.
  • Business Processes

These teams need to assess plans, processes and priorities across multiple business scenarios or sensitivities.

One of my favorite questions when testing those scenarios and plans: “What must be true?”

  • What must be true for demand to increase (or decrease) to that level?
  • What must be true for our employees to feel ready (safe, prepared) to come back to the office?
  • What must be true for our supply chains to run full and efficiently?

And then, what happens when things change?

Planning those responses now, with flexibility across different scenarios, will allow you and your business to be ready for change.

Let me know how Progressio can help plan your return.