Could COVID19 change the strategic context forever?

It’s always hard to know whether a moment has paradigm shifting potential until it is upon you and you are truly in the thick of it. Often, it’s way after the actual moment that the penny drops. As COVID19 takes hold around the world it is already showing its devastating impact on organisations, their supply chains and, most critically, the people who make everything possible.

Hopefully the outbreak will be restrained and controlled fast, but the untold human suffering it has already wrought, and the disruption manifesting in its wake, already has the potential to shift markets, re-engineer organisational habits and redefine strategic contexts for evermore.

Here are just 4 ways in which behaviours may fundamentally shift:

Just in case

Just in case replaces just in time – a web of multiple supply chain routes with excess stock carried at every major production facility replaces the established habit of lean, mean supply chains and limited stock inventories.

Every shore

Every shore rather than off-shore – whilst the temptation in a crisis may be to veer towards home grown and ‘nationalism’ these can prove to be short-term solutions with risks should the outbreak establish itself on home turf. Instead, major communication and production facilities are purposely and strategically positioned in multiple locations throughout the world limiting operational impact should one location be particularly disrupted.

Role pool

Role pool supersedes job share – job share presents some resilience in that two people can readily perform the responsibilities of a given role. The evolution of this practice into role pools (where a number of people hold a pool of roles between them and rotate extensively and regularly) extends its positive impact. People now hold role portfoliosrather than a particular role with a job title.

Abundant matrix

Abundant matrix is the order of the day – so called ‘redundant hierarchy’ used to be aggressively managed in organisation design. Apparently excess layers of management and bloated teams were re-organised to achieve efficiency. Organisation design now focuses on building abundance into the hierarchy and fabric of an organisation so that, should disruption occur, there is adequate inbuilt reserve resource to ensure continuity.

Perhaps it’s counter intuitive to proactively connect with others and share ideas and valuable resources in a time of great danger. Yet experience tells us that collaboration, innovation and co-creation are the behaviours that can reduce risk, mitigate threats, optimise opportunities and positively change the world – we’ve never needed to engage them more!

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