Jarrod Wilson – Dynamiq CEO
Just like in those old western movies, when the gunslingers are called in, the town folk want a quick resolution to the problem at hand. A corporate response is much the same. The response needs to be fast and accurate.
Some responders are lightning quick and pull the trigger many times so something hits the target. Others are fast and accurate, only having to pull the trigger once or twice.
The impact of getting either of the two combinations wrong, can be huge. In our study of the COVID-19 response of over 30 organisations, we found that that optimised organisations are fast and accurate while proactive organisations are fast and becoming more accurate as time goes on.
Because optimised organisations save time, they can build on their capability to react to opportunities as they arise. Reactive organisations are neither fast nor accurate, often relying on the corporate hired gunslinger to come in when the crisis is at its peak.
We believe crisis management is best practiced within an organisation as a response built on internal trust. Quite simply, it won’t build trust to hire a corporate gunslinger to shoot the problem down at the eleventh hour.
In our fifth COVID insights, we focus on the need for speed and accuracy and how to get the best combination of the two, without having to hire the external gunslinger.
We reviewed more than thirty organisations to look at the speed and accuracy of corporate responses to COVID-19 and the impact of that response on organisational health.
So how did optimised, proactive and reactive organisations react? These statements can be directly attributed to optimised organisations who have demonstrated consistent results when practicing their organisational responses.
- Organisations which have trust in its people and processes respond quicker.
- Optimised organisations have trust because they can make reasonable assumptions about their colleagues or business unit capacity based on prior experience – whether through actual experience or practice.
- Optimised organisations fight to get control making quick decisions and adjusting on the fly. Once they have control, they take a more deliberate approach favouring accuracy over speed.
Overall, we synthesised corporate COVID 19 responses into three broad categories:
Optimised – these organisations have a mature system for managing disruptions and the system is well-understood across the workforce. These organisations pushed the envelope with testing of their procedures prior to the pandemic.
Understanding the importance of realistic practice and engagement with committed stakeholders, they undertook testing which involved regulatory observers. They were committed to pushing teams outside their comfort zone and they also tested new and lesser-experienced team members and insisted on participation across all levels, including the most senior of leaders in the organisation.
Optimised organisations worked closely with instructional designers to align scenarios with organisational risk and then tested those risks. The data shows in a review of 15 optimised organisations, training was conducted regularly, involving all sites as well as senior management and the executive. They built trust and commitment. They took the approach of “training hard to fight easy”.
Building on the inherent capability that organisational trust provides both internally and externally, and taking advantage of the quiet space available through optimisation, several of these organisations seized new business opportunities since the outbreak of COVID-19, have quietly managed their business risk and reviewed old business models to maximise new potential.
Frequent training and testing allows an organisation to know where its strengths and weaknesses are when conducting a response and where they need to call on outside expertise. It also provides an opportunity to improve and strengthen their business resilience framework, including documentation, training and the realism of exercise scenarios. Realistic exercise scenarios allow organisations to test their existing plans and to adjust those plans as required as business disruptions unfold, ensuring the response to an actual event is conducted quickly and effectively.
In fact, several of the optimised organisations we reviewed were conducting virtual COVID-19 response planning prior to the Australian Government announcements. The impact of this on their PPRR (Prepare, Plan, Respond and Recover) model has been a much faster response and almost anticipation of the disruption, a rapid ramp up to their ongoing business continuity phase and as previous noted, an earlier recovery, that takes advantage of the gaps to seize new opportunities.
The right kind of practice improves skills of the individual, is focused on what is needed most and delivered in a way that increases knowledge, changes attitudes and is demonstrated in positive individual and organisational behaviour. It also reduces the effort of training overall, hones the skills of the team, reduces risk and ensures a top level response at all levels and in all areas. Rather than a corporate gunslinger, the organisation is able to utilise a corporate coach who can help do the hard work before the event to ensure the team responds as needed, when required.
A great example of this is the many tertiary training institutions who have taken advantage of quiet space to remodel new business for foreign students. There are also cases in the resources industry where parent companies have utilised down time to mitigate and mange long term social licence issues. Whilst this might be considered a mitigation task, in should in fact be considered a revision of business opportunity.
Proactive – these companies took steps to establish a common approach to managing significant business disruptions. These organisations have little proven capability but reacted quickly because of recent training and exercising. That recent experience and the training which was conducted in detail was helpful in allowing organisations to formulate appropriate responses quite quickly. They are now conducting real life training, in real time. This builds internal and external trust in a maturing system and they are seen by external stakeholders now as making the right decisions in the response phase. They are better-positioned to retain control and are being supported by other agencies including regulators in that process. These organisations are moving very quickly to the optimised structure.
Reactive – these companies had no defined approach for managing disruptions or significant events. The training that was conducted was very much compliance-based training that took the path of least resistance. Rather than practising for a speedy and accurate response, reactive organisations simply trained, taught and practiced to the bare minimum of the compliance check.
The concern with a compliance-based focus is whilst that training builds and confirms individual skills, it lacks the focus needed to move the organisation towards its best version of itself – an optimised organisation. These organisations have struggled to win back confidence both internally and externally.
Ultimately, a speedy and effective response only comes from good principled practice. And your practicing, drilling and rehearsing must be accurate, sufficient, authentic and current. Failure to prepare in any of these areas is at worst preparing to fail, and at best it is practising to respond poorly and that’s a waste of your time and money.
COVID-19 response been up to scratch? Contact us to discuss your organisation.