In response to COVID-19, companies are developing their contingency plans quickly. Some are adapting existing plans to handle this outbreak, while others are starting from scratch.
While it is too early to fully understand the severity of this crisis and its long-term implications, there are several steps businesses can take now to help improve the situation. My discussions with clients reveal that some companies emerge stronger — and even experience revenue growth— after a crisis, while others falter.
What to look at now
Create a dedicated crisis team: A crisis like COVID-19 can have an impact on every part of the business. Senior-level oversight — and internal cohesion among cross-functional teams, grounded in preparation, training and testing — are key to good outcomes. Every member of the team — from executive leadership down — should know who is doing what. If you haven’t already, train the people involved in executing the plan to be sure they’re ready at a moment’s notice.
Establish the facts: It’s essential that the crisis plan outlines how information will flow and that everyone has confidence in its veracity. Strong data also reinforces a central element of crisis planning — exploring different scenarios and how they could affect the business in the short, medium and long term.
Collaborate — internally and externally:
Three key participants are at the heart of any crisis response:
Craft a stakeholder communications strategy: A company’s messaging during a crisis should be authentic. It’s important to address all the organization’s stakeholders. In past crises, we’ve seen some corporations focus narrowly on particular stakeholder groups—perhaps investors, regulators or highly vocal consumers – while neglecting others like business customers or suppliers.
Part of your communications strategy will undoubtedly be centered on ensuring the safety and security of your workforce.
Where to focus next
Create space to scan the longer-term horizon
Consider what happens not just today, but tomorrow and beyond. This may involve allocating dedicated resources who are freed up from the day-to-day pressures of managing the crisis. The resulting wider and longer-term perspective can help make the company’s emergence from the crisis even stronger and more sustainable.
From experience, the response window for a crisis is typically measured in months, while recovery is measured in years. Now’s the time to run scenarios to create a crisis-agnostic plan that’s fit for your business.