The COVID-19 pandemic is testing businesses - and business leaders - across the globe like never before. Employees, investors, regulators and other stakeholders are looking to business leaders to guide their organisations confidently and effectively through these coming months. Yet the average tenure of a CEO is 14 years and it’s been 17 years since the SARS epidemic. So without direct experience of dealing with an epidemic situation, how should business leaders plan their response?
Many business leaders will be fighting the urge to narrow their focus onto the immediate problem. It’s a natural human response. But complex organisations need to fight that instinct and maintain a wider viewpoint. The aim for businesses should be focused on ensuring clarity and confidence, both internally and externally. Business leaders need to ensure that they have the agility, capacity, technology and resilience to make decisions that they can stand by.
So while you may feel the need to respond to the most immediate issue as it arises, we recommend also making sure you take the following key areas into account:
Putting in place remote working practices where possible
Making sure that critical security functions are maintained and that the business is protected against cyber, fraud and other threats
Reviewing supply chain management
Monitoring cash flow, taking actions to maximise cash flows including external support and taking rapid cost reduction decisions
Planning around your workforce and resources, such as surge capacity solutions for businesses with outsourced centres in India and other countries or cities on lockdown
Crisis scenario planning to inform stabilisation strategy
Business leaders need to be cautious in the decisions they take, balancing immediate needs with ensuring their businesses can quickly respond to the changing situation, including when economies start to return to the “new” normal.
However in a fast-evolving situation where information is often incomplete,confusing and changing at pace, keeping on top of all parts of your crisis response can feel like a challenge too far for many business leaders. It comes back again to experience; while business leaders deal with crises, on at least some level, regularly - it’s certainly nothing on this scale.
This is where crisis response professionals can help. Our Crisis PMO and response team works every day with organisations facing existential unplanned events that significantly disrupt business as usual. We work with leaders to share the burden so that they can keep the business running. Our team has unparalleled knowledge and experience of every area of crisis management – backed up by the specialist sector experience, geographical and technical expertise of our global network. We can mobilise quickly, working remotely without any loss of impact or collaboration.
With this support, business leaders can win back one of their most vital commodities; the space to think and make the right decisions with confidence.