We are currently in the throes of what can only be described as a catastrophe, both on a human level and also from a business point of view. It is the latter I am concerned with now, as it seems to be the thing that is most puzzling for us all. What comes next?
First of all, many people seem to think that we are having some sort of blip and then things will go back to being as they were. Well, this is definitely wrong. We have a virus that is killing people and for which there is no known cure.
Whether lockdown continues or social distancing stays with us for another year, things will not go back to being as they were towards the end of 2019.
Then we come to that awful phrase ‘new normal’. What is it exactly? The term implies that the old normal was not quite right and that a newer version will be more useful somehow. It also infers that a new state will be constant as though there has just been a change, a slight shift in our day to day lives.
The reality is that the post COVID-19 era will be characterised by change, constantly shifting environments, and also the need for rapid decision making.
So, you are thinking, how on earth do I create plans for my business? Ditch the plans (well the boring linear sort anyway) and create yourself a storyboard. Your endpoint is probably just past the end of the current wave of coronavirus and the intermediate points are wherever you want them to be (significant milestones).
So, at this endpoint, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions about how things will work because we will not know what things look like. Forget the products and services that you currently sell and think about your customers.
Will customers still want the things that you have traditionally provided, will they want something else, will they want more (or less), will they prefer it if you bundle more things together to save them going to many suppliers (a bit like going to local shops or getting supermarket deliveries during lockdown)?
Next, take a look to see if the competitive landscape is changing. Will any of your competitors be weakened or perhaps not be there at all? Will this leave gaps in the marketplace for you to fill?
And finally, you are always going to be able to make money is you have a solution to someone’s problem(s). So, try to think about potential customers who are just popping out of the other side of the pandemic. What extra things might they need, what things might they not be able to do, or what might they be afraid of?
At this point you might be thinking that there are a lot of questions to answer. Things do get harder though. Remember I suggested that our new world will be characterised by change and the need to make decisions quickly. Imagine that your business has to adapt in the same way a chameleon adapts to its surroundings.
You cannot wait to be told what to do, your business must be constantly scanning the environment around it and make decisions accordingly.
In the future, you will need to be nimble. Where you work will be immaterial, especially as technological advances will make remote working seem like we are all together. Factories will still exist but may be staffed by relatively few people.
Organisational structures will change and become flatter and more fluid with greater value placed on knowledge than job title.
For more ideas on structure and infrastructure please also read Soft Infrastructure Post Coronavirus to get a better idea of what comes next.