Running a business during these coronavirus times is like driving a car at night in heavy rains on a road without road marks. The journey becomes so uncertain and frustrating. Other drivers may choose to park and wait. Others take calculated risks. While others turn on the driver-assist computer in the car for night vision and they continue driving steadily.
This is what is happening.
The times are uncertain and ambiguous. There is just too much information on the Internet about the pandemic that the only best thing is to focus on living and surviving that worrying about what is going on.
As a leader, now is the time to communicate with consistency and clarity. But there is not as bad as communicating without a plan. First, develop one, then communicate it to align your team’s effort to a common agenda.
Below are the new things you must take note of and how to win:
- Your old strategy, with rigid structures, has been rendered irrelevant. You need to review it and update it. This is not the time for growth, it is for survival
- Focus on the short-term game, without losing the long-term game. Empower you are A-team to win.
- Allocate resources to drive the demands of the new normal. Now it is time to step up.
You cannot cross an ocean with the same tools and thinking when crossing an island. These are two different situations. In an ocean, you may need a Ship or an ocean liner that is fully packaged and prepared for the journey. But you cannot move the ship over land. Your business is like that Captain of a ship who suddenly finds a huge island in the middle of an ocean. You cannot continue with your navigation direction. You must veer off your original paths, change course and examine the additional distance, and time to assess whether resources shall be adequate to keep everyone on board alive given the new developments that had not been anticipated. This calls for changing the old strategy for the journey.
That is what #covid19 has done to businesses.
The pandemic just happened. It is like a ship captain suddenly noticing a floating island on the earlier planned and usual course/ direction. You cannot insist on navigating through. It could be deadly. It is deadly. You must throw the old plan out through the window, and quickly change course.
Now is the time to change your strategy. Get the critical people on the call and identify the new set of priorities that are needed to respond and recover from this crisis. You need a Mindspark shift. This is not about mindset. It is difficult to change minds that have been “set.” Your team must be seeing the urgency to change the priorities. This is not a time to think about growth. It is about survival. Helping the company remain strong and resilient to overcome the headwinds in terms of lost customers, reduced business volumes, the inability of suppliers to deliver on commitments, and many similar things.
What are the required changes to win?
Create a clear message of the changes to come to keep the team on the right focus. Winning businesses usually have a short-term game – what must we do to win within the next 12 months? And a long-term game, what do we need to now, to win in 5-10 years?
The short-term must provide short term must-wins and respond decisively to the pandemic to win and navigate. Once you set the priorities, develop clear metrics or measures to track progress. Identify the critical team members to drive each priority so that responsibility is clear, and people can be held accountable. This is about progress. For each priority, set clear milestones and monitor them.
What are the critical functions and processes that deliver value to ALL customers who bring 80% of the revenue? For example, during a lockdown, the health sector never closed. Why? It is a mission-critical function, with critical processes to help people win the war against the coronavirus pandemic. In your business, which are the critical processes? Who are the people managing them? Identify these processes and the people in charge? What changes do you need to make to win during these new times of remote working?
Who are the top customers to continue supporting? What channels are critical? Make sure you get in touch with such customers to win. Empower you are A-team to win. Give them the tools and resources they need. Now is the time to be agile and nibble to win and navigate.
Allocate resources to drive the processes and behaviours you need. It is not enough to just talk about priorities and desired outcomes. You must fund the new initiatives. Strategy execution fails because adequate resources are not allocated to support the activities involved.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.