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The three-stage Covid-19 reset for business leaders

Business leaders must put strategies in place to “respond, recover and renew”, according to analyst and advisory firm Gartner, as well as build in more resilience for going forward.

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Leaders must focus on resetting their business strategies and building resilience
Leaders must focus on resetting their business strategies and building resilience

Business leaders must reset their business strategy in response to the global pandemic and break it down into the three stages of “respond, recover and renew”, according to analyst and advisory firm Gartner.

 

They must also build in more resilience and the analyst said it is crucial for senior leaders to make strategic decisions that will lead them to “a renewed future state”.

 

Gartner sets out that the duration of each phase varies by country, industry and enterprise, as well as by business unit, product or service.

 

“There’s been a reset of the workforce and work itself, a reset of the employer/employee relationship, and a reset of the business ecosystem. For most, the business impact of the pandemic has been deeply negative, while positive for some fortunate sectors,” said Chris Howard, chief of research at Gartner.

 

“The pandemic has wiped away the strategy for some leaders, but they’ve also garnered invaluable experience. Now it’s time to bring together the executive team and use those lessons to reconfigure their business and operating models for a new reality.”

 

The three-stage approach:

 

Respond: immediate actions are focused on keeping people safe and essential business functions operating. This is a relatively short period marked by high effort and potentially chaotic activity.

Key activities include: temporary fixes to stop the bleeding.

 

Recover: this is a more organised/coordinated effort to stabilise operations. This has a medium duration.

Key activities include: create a plan to restore a scalable state; identify capabilities needed to strengthen, refactor, reopen, rehire, rebudget, and resupply.

 

Renew: extended period marked by strategic, durable execution across the organisation.

Key activities include: learn to conduct operations processes and workflows in new, repeatable, and scalable ways; use lessons learned and emergent patterns from prior phases to coalesce around a new foundation and way forward.

 

Gartner emphasises that these phases are not sequential and can overlap. For example, during the highly disruptive times, it is possible to think about the renewal phase, even while grappling with the triage response and recovery and, for executive leaders, it’s essential to do so.

 

Building resilience

 

A successful reset in itself can also build organisational resilience. As organisations weed out weaknesses and amplify strengths in their business and operating models, they will be better positioned to weather the next disruption, claimed Gartner.

 

“In the absence of a vaccine or cure for Covid-19, any rebound in business activity could easily be followed by another round of response, recover, renew, so the imperative is to absorb lessons learned quickly and build sustainable changes into business and operating models,” continued Howard.

 

When it comes to creating a resilient business model, leaders must first determine exactly where and how the crisis has stretched and broken their existing models, and where the risks and opportunities lie as a result. Senior and functional leaders must collaborate around an agile, options-based scenario-planning protocol that they can use to identify significant uncertainties and evaluate them in terms of their importance to the near- and long-term future of the enterprise.

“The pandemic has wiped away the strategy for some leaders, but they’ve also garnered invaluable experience. It’s time to bring together the executive team and use those lessons to reconfigure their business and operating models”

In the renew phase, leaders must take the opportunity to reset or rebuild their business models and operations for a new reality. Gartner outlines the plausible post-pandemic pathways as rescale, reinvent, return, reduce and retire.

 

“For some, the pandemic has stressed business and operating models to the point of breaking. Organisations will ultimately reduce or retire some activities permanently. This could include moving some business capabilities out into the ecosystem (for example, SaaS) or removing a product or service entirely. In some cases, retirement is long overdue,” said Howard.

 

He added: “Others could reinvent themselves by refocusing their capacity. Think of government service centres that have been forced to offer their services remotely. They may be able to retire some of their physical centres and instead focus on their new-found digital capabilities. Yet others, such as digitalised parts of an organisation, might rescale permanently.”

 

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