Anyone who has ridden a bike will know the bike heads in the direction you are looking. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on where you’re looking at the time.

It can be the difference between a thrilling, successful ride, having achieved something great along the way. Or it all ends in tears as you crash headlong into the thing that caught your focus for that fateful moment.

That’s exactly how it is for business when dealing with major disruptions. Where you focus is where you go. So while it makes sense to focus on recovery, it is even more important to look past the recovery phase and focus on pivoting your business model to capitalise on opportunities arising out of the pandemic.

According to an Edelman survey of more than 12,000 people across the world in March, respondents overwhelmingly said brands can and should make a difference throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Respondents recognised the need for specific brand action to help address the societal challenges posed by Covid-19, from protecting the well-being of employees to shifting products and pricing to creating a sense of community.

More than 70 percent agreed if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever.

This is after the Edelman Trust Barometer special report, showed that brand trust is on par with quality, value, convenience and ingredients as a purchase consideration.

There was also a clear desire that brands both partner with government (90 percent) and be a safety net stepping in to fill gaps in the government’s response to the virus (86 percent).

Ultimately, this shows your consumers want you to have your crisis management response and your other basics sorted so you can focus on uncovering opportunities and mutually beneficial ways to help.

In our first article, we hypothesised in dealing with major disruption:

  • A common approach is essential
  • Time and effort spent to establish that approach is essential
  • Although plans are important, the ability to plan is essential
  • Maintenance of business functions is essential
  • An established approach provides opportunities and that, is essential to thriving not just surviving.

In our COVID Insights series, analysing more than 30 organisations in depth, we synthesised corporate COVID 19 responses into three broad categories of Optimised, Proactive and Reactive.

We described them as:

Optimised – these organisations had a mature system that was well understood, tested and moreover trusted. It responded to complex problems and it was deliberate and methodical.

Proactive – Proactive companies had a common approach in place. They were neither tested nor proven in real situations but had recent training and experience that stood them in good stead.

Reactive – these organisations lack a common approach and without any real capacity to move through the problem, are still playing catch up months after the COVID disruption.

The more mature, tested and trusted the organisation, the better able to respond to complex problems it became. These are what we called the optimised organisations. They drove through the problem not to the problem, and as such were able to quickly identify and exploit opportunities.

For example, as demand has soared for essential products, Unilever pivoted to prioritise its packaged food, surface cleaners, and personal hygiene product brands over other products, such as skin care, where demand fell.

The proactive companies are like the “P” plate motorbike riders with the skills and knowledge to know what to do but not yet been tried and tested in real life.

Their common approach and recent training and testing experiences have helped with the eventual recovery of the proactive organisation and their capacity to seize opportunities ahead.

Reactive organisations in general are still doing that, reacting.

They crashed into the problem and essentially, they have not embraced the essentials of optimised recovery in dealing with business disruption which means every problem remains a problem not an opportunity to be seized.

What’s your organisation doing? Are you driving to the problem, or through the problem with a clear vision of what opportunities lie ahead?

Contact us for a confidential discussion.

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