2020.04.20

Six Tips to Moving Your Strategy Beyond COVID-19

By Philippe Carpentier, Marie-Paule Giguère and Sylvain Hilby

Newsletter

The current economic crisis caused by the corona virus pandemic has many managers and leaders reconsidering whether their strategic priorities are still relevant. You may, as many are, be tempted to set aside their strategic plans and act on a day-to-day basis. Instead, may we suggest that you take a step back and reconsider this approach? Is its better go back to zero and start over or to adapt your plan’s field of vision and priorities?

Here are six actions to consider so that your strategy can pull you through this crisis:

1.   Do not limit yourself to a single vision

Since we are still in the eye of the storm, it may be tempting to take a very short-term vision. Yet, it is preferable to take a step back and simultaneously work with three different perspectives:

  • Right now: Beyond maintaining or restarting operations, give a high priority to the financial aspect of the business, which is required for survival. Develop financial scenarios and tightly manage your cashflow.
  • Short term: Plan for restarting activities and focussing on what needs to be adjusted and put into place (e.g. new targeted proposals, changes to operating models etc.)
  • Midterm: Reinvent your activities, your management approach, and service offering for the “new normal”. Focus on new client needs and problems all the while prioritizing and devoting efforts to two or three promising initiatives.

We firmly believe that businesses likely to fare well in the aftermath are those who are already working with these three perspectives, and not just focusing all their attention on managing the day-to-day operations. When we concentrate solely on urgent matters and quick decisions, we lose perspective and it will make the recovery, rebound, more difficult.

2.   Seize this opportunity to speed things up

Working remotely, now a well-established concept, has increased collaboration and accelerated projects and initiatives which would otherwise have taken months of discussions to develop. Thanks to collaborative work tools, the rate of collaboration may never have been higher than it is now. Many collaborative work tools such as Teams and Mural make it easier, even remotely, to carry out creative brainstorming exercises, parcel out projects, assign specific tasks and follow up over 7, 14 or 30-day cycles, as well as enabling increased agility, in the true sense of the word.

Businesses that will stand out are those that have moved ahead of the game on strategic initiatives such as accelerating their digital transformation, innovation and their agility. Innovative and agile capabilities acquired during this new normal can be a real strategic advantage.

3.   Increase value in the eyes of the client

Many businesses are redefining their value propositions and testing them in the marketplace. Now is the time to push them forward vis-à-vis your clients and the key players in your eco-system. It is also a good time to work on reading the external environment in order to identify weak signals and dare to take bold actions that would have been inconceivable just a short while ago.  Do your competitive advantages need to evolve once the crisis is over?

Businesses that will thrive will have evolved in terms added value, will have found new value propositions, will have remained connected to their clients, and will have allowed themselves to experiment.

4.   Ensure consistency between brand, mission and values

In the next few months, do not lose sight of your principles. It is during times of crisis that values are tested. With that in mind, brand image becomes even more important for clients and employees. The brand will be a sign of confidence and resilience for those organizations who have managed to protect it by “walking the talk” with respect to their values and their mission.

Some organizations will emerge from the crisis with a strengthened brand image, while others will be weaker. We believe that to maintain a strong brand, the actions and interactions you have with clients and employees must remain consistent with your mission and values.

5.   Adopt a collaborative approach

During these troubled times fraught with uncertainty, and despite the distance, it is even more important to adopt approaches that are collaborative, inclusive, and which are based on co-construction principles. These approaches can help create meaning when relationships are difficult to maintain.

Many are experiencing the repercussions from the pandemic in their everyday lives; whether it be taking care of their loved ones, or trying to make ends meet. It is imperative to stay connected to employees, to let them take initiatives and make contributions throughout this crisis in order to ensure they remain committed to the organization.

We believe that businesses that will emerge victorious from this crisis are those that will have created an inclusive and participative approach with their employees. Even in circumstances of reduced staff, employees will remember how their organization allowed them to contribute during these turbulent times.

6.   Remain an active player in the ecosystem

Organizations are full-fledged citizens. And as such, they must seek how to support their business partners, suppliers, industry and communities. Before cancelling a contract, suspending an activity, or postponing a payment, take a step back and consider the ripple effects of making such a hasty decision. In a more positive line of thinking, it may even be possible to create partnerships within your ecosystem and accelerate some changes and transformations for the whole group.

We are convinced that organizations that contribute to keeping their business ecosystem and community at large the more vibrant and as dynamic as possible, are those which will stand out.

Remember that the decisions made today will have an impact for years to come, once the crisis is behind us. The challenges are many, but they also provide opportunities to grow. Its on this basis that you can start to push your strategy forward and differentiate your organization… way beyond these difficult times!