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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Ng

Pandemic Proof Organisation Strategies - The New Strategic Norm (Post COVID19)


Cities in lockdown, movement restrictions, global economical disruptions, companies working from home & turning digital, essential vs non-essential, quarantine, social-isolation, strict hygiene practices, social distancing, & so much more.

In just a few months, the world as we know it has been turned upside down, fighting an invisible war, racing against time before the next "wave" strikes.

When we face great challenges as humanity, there is a great opportunity for growth. In a sense, this COVID-19 Pandemic is going to be one of our greatest test for humanity in our lifetime - possibly preparing us for what is to come next.

Viewing the situation here from Malaysia, it is certainly a saddening, painful, but interesting times. Despite the current situation the world is facing, we are in an era where despite having movement restrictions, humanity has come to a stage where technology companies are here to help the whole situation.

With the current technology (some examples):

1. Businesses can and are forced to adapt their businesses to use technological means to keep their business running (eg: virtual conferencing, remote working & cloud computing, etc) despite lockdowns & movement restrictions around the world.

2. Food / Parcel deliveries has never been so convenient (and a lifesaver to some!) where if your favourite eatery is still running, you can technically still order your favourite meal even though you are stuck in your house. (it's a luxury in a crisis for those who can afford!) Or if you are running a distribution business, you can still deliver your goods from your own house.

3. Wearables have allowed communities/governments to track the whereabouts of people with the intention of making sure that they are adhering to the quarantine rules so that they minimise the spread of the infection.

4. Through social media, companies around the world are also able to interact and engage with their clients on a very personal level as well (TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, etc) whilst having their Brick & Mortar store closed.

Peering through the chaos - Early Recovery

From a Macro-Perspective and loosely basing off William White's Recovery model - let's see what's to possibly come and how this crisis will be impacting those organisations who survive this pandemic in the future to come.

First let's set some assumptions on what "recovery" means here:

- assuming recovery here means we have developed a vaccine that can reliably "manage" the virus

- assuming the WHO doesn't even classify it as an outbreak anymore

- global economic sentiment is not significantly impacted by the COVID19 outbreak anymore

For the first quarter, organisations that survive this crisis will hopefully return from their crisis mode - back into their standard operations mode. This gives them some time to reflect and look ahead on how to proceed with the next quarter. This also gives them time to reflect on the structural damages & weak points for the organisation - where they have been hit hard by the pandemic.

We foresee that for most companies - it will come down to these few main priorities:

1. Driving up E-Commerce strategies/capabilities (if it was one of the many things to do, now it will probably become the TOP PRIORITY) - as we can see how organisations that have this capability has been dominating the field through the pandemic. This also enables the company to build structural foundations to work from home should the need arises.

2. Health / Essentials Related Business initiatives - we can also see how adaptable companies dynamically shifted their services to either profit from or to support the global situation from the pandemic. These are the companies who made the headlines and contributed in difficult times.

3. An even bigger gravitation towards labour automation & driverless distribution - we can see that given a lockdown in the future due to future pandemic & future crisis, humans would have to be safely harboured at home while businesses have to keep on running depending on the crisis at the future point of time.

Let's further take a look at the tourism industry, the aviation & the cruise industry is going to have a good look at itself and it's going to have a massive redevelopment here:

  • how are planes going to take into addressing future pandemics? Will they have better health screening at airports for customers? Will their planes be "infectious disease proof"?

  • how will cruise ships minimise infectious diseases on their ships as well? Would there be a huge redesign on how cruise ships are manufactured?

PS: Obviously Government, Healthcare & Educational systems would go digitally as well.

Getting the Right People - Sustained Recovery

After these discussions start to take place, the next step would be "Ok, all this is good and great, so how do we make this happen to prepare ourselves?"

As always, after defining the strategy ahead - we need to start looking for the right people in place in order to make these strategies a reality.

So organisations would probably start at looking for people with certain profiles such as below:

  • Someone who has experienced a crisis before (or this particular pandemic) and experienced first hand how the organisation turned around and adapted their business model through a crisis (this is important as this sort of narrows down who has been conditioned emotionally & mentally to go through transformation through difficult times)

  • Someone innovative, yet able to execute a transformational plan

  • Someone who is has regional e-commerce experience (which gives you a wider perspective)

  • Someone who might be a design engineer

Finding these people would be difficult, so the alternative would be to start an In-House Transformational Academy to build these talents and to give existing employees to keep on challenging the future and the relevance of the current organisation.

Crisis Simulations - Long Term Recovery

As your organisation starts to transform based off the recent learnings from the current COVID19 pandemic - one way to repeat the cycle of innovation & transformation towards a Pandemic Proof Organisation is to continuously simulate crisis scenarios.

Organisations would probably start developing a team of Crisis Simulators (or there will be business opportunities for Crisis Simulation Consultancies in the future) in order to stress test their business given unlikely scenarios that could happen in the future to ensure that there is some continuity in the organisation despite whatever happens in the future.

Which possibly means that de-facto organisational structures in the future will change to incorporate these changes (such as the Chief Crisis Officers).

Ultimately, it comes down to your people again.

As we can see through this pandemic that it comes down to the people you have in your organisation & the culture you have set in place for continuous transformation and adaptation to market changes.

Even having the right strategy in place means nothing if you don't have the right people in place.

However, the key is to identify the right people in the first place to maximise the talent identification, & to minimise the risk of having a wrong job fit.

So, the question is after all the chaos has been lifted - do you have a plan?

If you're running or in an organisation that has some time to look into the future during these times of pandemonium, hit us up or comment below on what are your thoughts and perspective in dealing with the situation.

Looking to hear from you soon!

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