Make the Most of a Crisis


We rarely see them coming and know they will.

During a crisis, ‘normal’ activities are interrupted and processes are adjusted to keep operations moving.  This can highlight innovations that wouldn’t have otherwise been implemented. Perhaps you’d been pondering flexible policies around working from home. Suddenly crisis-related restrictions are mandating just that, rapidly altering a company’s approach to remote work and how communication happens.

So, a crisis happened, your company adapted to the new (perhaps temporary) situation – what now?

Situation Analysis

A helpful starting point is comparing your crisis activities to “normal” times.

Review the adjustments made by the company to accommodate crisis impacts and restrictions. Adjustments may have included reduced product offerings, altered processes, increased remote work, or shifting to a contingency work force. Analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly; what worked and what didn’t, where did you excel, what gaps were identified. Perhaps your new eCommerce site took off but only included partial offerings or your customer phone support was invaluable to weathering the storm. Consider whether changes will be included as a permanent part of the business and, if so, whether any further improvements are required.

Think about your employees and how the change has affected their experience. Define the support systems required to transition to the “new normal”. Did responsibilities shift, leading to new or increased expectations of employees? Perhaps a refresh on proper procedures and practices is needed or training on new technologies released and utilized during the crisis.

It’s also helpful to consider external internal changes, beyond your control. Chances are good that your current and future customer bases have been affected by the crisis too. Identify new customer needs for and identify the product or service offerings that would fulfill them. Consider environmental factors and trends that can impact your ability to be successful. Reassess your competitors and their actions and offerings.  

Finally, using all the information gained during analysis, revise the company strategy, and create a plan to move forward. See Strategy Design Tool for a walk through of questions to ask, research that is worth exploring, and activities that bring clarity and value to a strategy.

A Shift in Thinking

Crises occur randomly, bringing a myriad of changes. Companies are forced to react, adapt, and make hard decisions. Part of the challenge during times of crisis lies in overcoming our desire for the familiar, where we’re comfortable, and making full use of the opportunity for change. During a crisis, companies have a chance to bring creativity and change to the forefront. It’s a rare gift, let’s use it.

With these “Do’s” in mind you’ll establish a clear, achievable future.