A Different Kind of Crisis Requires Different Planning and Response
We are thankful for the years of experience we have guiding government and commercial clients through resiliency and disaster planning preparation. We call it Alternate Futures® Scenario Planning, and through it, we help our clients “Imagine If.” In recent weeks, we at Toffler Associates have been practicing what we preach and using it with our firm’s response planning while in the thick of the COVID-19 crisis.
Like many of you, we needed to make difficult choices for our business. Using our own methodology, we’ve kept possible ends in sight while making the necessary near- and long-term business decisions to navigate our firm and our clients through this crisis. Exploring our own worst-case scenarios helped me understand the depths of impact and how far-reaching our decisions would be as they rippled out through our organization’s ecosystem.
As I’m sure you are well aware, practicing dynamic crisis leadership and business resilience during COVID-19 is tough.
We, as leaders, are forced to prioritize between keeping employees, preserving liquidity and the continuity of our operations and client service. As our values around compassion, integrity and loyalty are being put to the test, leaderships need to align quickly.
Resilient leadership in a crisis takes great courage.
Over the last few weeks, we have seen how our clients are adapting to the dynamic planning environment needed for a pandemic compared to the plans they had for events such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks and active shooters. There are some commonalities worth examining in the tough questions they are struggling to answer, including:
A different type of response planning and crisis leadership is required – dynamic crisis leadership.
Most crisis planning exercises address responses to an event and not to a long-duration pandemic which produces new information daily and weekly. The complexity and global nature of COVID-19 create multiple layers of uncertainty with respect to duration, geography, scale and finances, as well as the human and psychological impacts. Different activities are required to chart a course. Combining dynamic crisis leadership practices with decision making based on business resiliency principles provides an agile method for leaders during the pandemic.
There is no best practice for dealing with a pandemic like COVID-19. We have learned a lot as our firm is managing through COVID-19 and by speaking with clients. And, we have used the new insights to update our approach for crisis response and leadership. The approach is aligned to a proven planning process utilized by the military as a methodical way to navigate through trying times. A series of questions can be used within the Crisis Response Team or at an organizational level to begin the process.
Prepare and Understand
Decide and Execute
Monitor and Update
Assumptions are necessary to effectively plan a response. It’s important to identify the facts and known information, as well as what is unknown, to be effective. Scenarios should be based on your planning goals and examined with an analysis of the required decisions and implications. Over the course of days, weeks or months, the stated assumptions will be proven or disproved, causing the fact-base to be updated and the crisis response plan to be adjusted. Thus, keeping it dynamic.
This Nietzsche quote comes to mind when thinking about the chaos often displayed by unprepared leadership teams: “The most basic form of human stupidity is forgetting what we are trying to accomplish.” Leaders need to keep this top of mind while navigating the crisis and develop a plan that achieves the goals while balancing realism and optimism.
We are on this learning journey together. Please let us know how you are navigating the COVID-19 crisis.
Other COVID-19 resources:
As CEO of Toffler Associates, Maria taps into deep experience with strategy development and execution, customer experience, business performance management, acquisition integration, and organizational transformation. She is an energetic and insightful executive who brings dedication and know-how to help organizations define business strategy, lead high performing teams, grow new markets, and create measurable results.
Toffler Associates is a future-focused strategic advisory firm. Our Future Proof® business consulting approach helps global leaders understand how future shifts impact current decisions so they can take advantage of opportunity, manage risk, and create future value.
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