Problem: Leaders who are not conducting a comprehensive readiness assessment now will not be prepared to make the pivot into new marketplace realities.
Opportunity: Use this period of disruption to accelerate change management initiatives that will sufficiently equip the organization to take action on what it knows today and afford it the systems and processes required to adapt as new data is available.
Resolution: Establish a team of key stakeholders who will help you assesses, design, plan, and execute the necessary change management that will position your organization to meet the demand on the other side of this disruption.
As the shock and awe of the realities of COVID-19 and social distancing wear off, leaders are beginning to move beyond the stabilization conversation and move into planning what the next 90 to 180 days will look like.
No one knows exactly what will happen. And it's most likely you'll need to revisit your assumptions, data, and planning every 14-21 days over the next couple of months.
But if you wait until a new normal is set, you may not be able to catch up with demand—let alone your competition.
That means it's time to assess your readiness and preparedness as an organization to make the pivot.
There Are Five Key Areas of Readiness That Need to Be Assessed Immediately
Sales & Marketing
Supply Chain & Distribution
Within Each of the Categories, There Are Five Questions You'll Need to Answer
What is the long-term change impact of COVID-19 on current reality? It's possible no long-term impact has been realized or is even anticipated. However, that is unlikely as you consider the interdependent nature of business processes and systems.
What new risks need to be assessed? It's much better to call out both the risk and mitigation strategies as a way to balance resource allocation to resolve the most potent risks first.
What is the gap between the current state and need? If you want your change management to be successful, you need to anchor yourself in the reality of now and next. Without that, you'll waste time and resources without necessarily making any progress toward adapting to new market conditions.
What stakeholders need to be enrolled in the change process? No business operates independently, even a business of one. Identify everyone each particular change might impact. Invite them into a collaborative conversation where you can transfer a sense of ownership about the preferred future. Your leaders and managers will be much more likely to follow along if they believe they are co-creating your new reality.
What impact will this have on business processes and culture? It's possible this shift will have a permanent effect on your business which may affect people, departments, and initiatives that are visible and deeply embedded into your organization. Get ahead of this to establish a narrative about the future. If you don't, a narrative will be supplied and could inhibit growth measures. At a minimum, you risk massive distraction without a future-leaning narrative grounded in growth.
No Comprehensive Data Model
There is no comprehensive data model for what is taking place right now. Even though we've experienced eleven recessions since World War II, the protracted impact of a prolonged period of social distancing brings with it aspects that would be nearly impossible to calculate. That, of course, doesn't mean you shouldn't model.
Work with the data you have. Just understand that you'll need to evaluate your models more consistently. Otherwise, your algorithms will be deprecated sooner than anyone might predict.
When you have limited confidence in your lagging indicators, you must spend more time on your leading indicators. You may not be able to control outcomes, but you can control the development of leading indicators.
So, what does that look like for:
Finance. Evaluate your capital position and liquidity.
Communications. Evaluate your messaging and delivery systems.
Sales & Marketing. Evaluate your processes and technology.
Supply Chain & Distribution. Evaluate availability and access to raw materials as well as the functionality of distribution networks and systems.
Technology. Evaluate where you need to adapt human-centric processes to more digital-driven processes as well as organization adoption of technology within the context of each key function.
Establish a Project Team for Assessment and Recovery Plan
You can't make this change on your own.
Create a cross-functional, interdependent team of key stakeholders tiered with executives, managers, and team leaders. This will afford you the opportunity to work through strategy and implementation both vertically and horizontally.
If it's just a group of executives, you'll be long on ideas and short on implementation. If it's just team leaders, you'll be long on initiatives and short on organizational alignment and symmetry across functions.
Give this project team whatever they want. Don't limit their scope or be too quick to criticize their directional thinking. Executive leadership should have regular check-ins to ensure all thinking and planning is sound.
This is an opportunity to allow your leaders to lead. Those who do will confirm their status. Those who don't will confirm their future.
To achieve an adaptive and resilient culture through massive change requires a high degree of trust and a willingness to let a team wander a bit—and even stumble—until they get it right.
The Time for Intervention Is Now
You don't want to just shuffle the deck. Your new reality will require new thinking, new ideas, and new insights that will take you to new places.
Your ability to accelerate through this disruption is directly related to your capacity to prepare for the necessary intervention required to equip your organization to pivot and make progress.
This is not the time for compliance and risk officers to attempt to suffocate collaboration, ideation, and strategy development.
Rather, this is the time you get to rethink your playbook and size up your capacity to meet the demand that will be waiting for you on the other side of disruption.
There will be time for compliance and risk strategies to shape final decisions. But that's not now.
Right now you need entrepreneurial thinking and visionaries—not managers. And those who lead will win big.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.