In the 14th century the Bubonic Plague, otherwise known as the Black Death, killed at least 30% of the population in Europe. In addition, it’s estimated that over 100 million people died worldwide during this Plague. Since none of us were around then, I think it’s safe to say that we have never experienced anything like COVID-19.
With its arrival, COVID-19 has caused unforeseen damage to the economy. The number of people unemployed is at record levels, and entire industries seem to have disappeared.
Since we’ve never experienced anything like this, and have no simulation models, how should we respond? In giving that some thought, I would like to share a few ideas.
The first one involves mindset. I’ve heard some employers state that they are going to “ride it out,” which would seem to indicate that they plan to “hunker down” until the virus passes. I would suggest we all assume that the impact of COVID-19 may be around for longer than anyone predicts. With that assumption, let’s take whatever corrective adjustments that are necessary now in order to operate in a COVID-19 environment.
Another idea involves innovation. It’s entirely possible that the market for our product has decreased or possibly temporarily disappeared. For example, if we’re in the travel industry, we must recognize that the vast majority of our customers are missing. Realizing this fact, we must be willing to alter our strategy and modify our product offerings while simultaneously seeking new markets or new possibilities for our products.
A third idea involves maintaining our current level of work output. If we have metrics, let’s make sure that our metrics don’t decrease. It’s entirely probable that our target market may have shrunk but if we maintain our metrics, we will likely end up with greater market share.
A fourth idea is to over-communicate. I have spoken to many of our clients and realize that many are committed to keeping their staff employed for as long as possible. With the current environment, regular status updates with your employees is one way to minimize the “rumor mill.”
A fifth idea involves evaluating our organizations to determine the lessons that are to be learned.
As Rahm Emanuel said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.”
If we take a step back and look at our organizations, let’s ask ourselves a few questions, such as “What previous processes have turned out to be unnecessary?”, “What blind spots did we have?” and “What new leaders have risen to the forefront?”
A final idea is that we recognize that no matter how bright we are and how great we are at planning, there will always be unexpected occurrences. When this happens, like with COVID-19, we have to admit our limitations. When faced with these situations there are times when only persistence and faith gets us through. That being said, the final idea is to embrace your faith.
In conclusion, as we move forward into unchartered waters, let’s be curious leaders that over-communicate, consistently innovate, and embrace our faith.