Finding the Positive, Even in Challenging Times

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Billions of us worldwide are altering our behaviors during the covid 19 crisis, so that as many people as possible remain safe.

When faced with a tough situation—even something big, like the coronavirus situation—I always ask: how can we mitigate the downside, and create some good?

We are living in strange times, and things are changing every day. Schools are closed and colleges have sent students home; flights, conferences and events have been cancelled; millions of employees are suddenly working remotely. Events this spring are likely to change the way we think, plan and do business for years to come.

Here are a few thoughts on how we might be able to create bits of good during this difficult situation:

  • Customers
    • The best way to weather a crisis is to help customers weather a crisis. What new services,  products or value would help your customers? What advice or information might help them most?
    • Create lasting loyalty by treating customers right during this crisis. If you can’t serve all customers fully, prioritize. Allocate scarce products and services to customers who can most benefit (3M appears to be doing this with face masks.)
    • Listen to customers and empower frontline employees to fix problems as they arise.
  • Employees, process and finance
    • If your employees are working remotely, it’s easy for communication to break down, trust to erode, and people to feel unappreciated or out of touch. Use video, not just the phone, for communication. Encourage personal check ins and levity during video calls. Smile.
    • Match your organizational structure to current conditions. Perhaps sub-teams should be created, team leaders added, or a mentorship program put in place to mitigate the impact of cancelled meetings and remote work.
    • Align your budget, metrics and incentives with current realities. For example, if you’ve cancelled a conference, redeploy the funds to digital marketing, or to tools for sales people to connect with customers through video.
    Suppliers
    • Think long term partnerships, not transactions. Share the burden. If you must cancel orders, consider the impact on your suppliers.
    • Revise inventory policies, identify substitutes and qualify back-up suppliers to create more resilience in your operations and supply chain.
    • Keep suppliers informed of your long-term expectations, even if you’re not certain.
    Community
    • Consider how your assets, talent, knowledge and technology might be put to use for the good of those in your business ecosystem, or the community at large. If you’ve blocked rooms for a cancelled conference, could the rooms be provided to out of town families who are visiting patients in the hospital, or individuals stranded due to a travel ban? If you’re saddled with a food and drink minimum, could the food be used by a local charity? Partner, borrow and share.
    Innovation and agility
    • Disruptive times challenge our thinking. New ideas emerge, and our assumptions are tested when unexpected events occur. You won’t have time to pursue all of these innovation ideas now, so collect them for later consideration.
    • Plan for the scenarios that may occur. What are the different ways events could play out, and how would you deal with each possibility? You’ll be more aligned and prepared for whatever happens if you’ve mentally rehearsed the possibilities with your team.

    People are social animals, and these are tough times. So as you go through your day, show appreciation and work together as you deal with the unexpected.

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