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Business Strategy and the Coronavirus

In business, strategy is the plan of the leader (the general: CEO, MD, GM). Executive managers are then deployed to “execute” the plan that represent how victory will be obtained. However, disruptions occur despite the best-laid plans – how do we make sense today of business strategy and the coronavirus?

  1. Strategically planning explained…

A strategic plan presupposes that we know:

  • why we exist, where we wish to be, what we stand for
  • an honest analysis of the current situation and environments
  • clear future targets and resources that will be needed
  • various strategic choices, options – betting on likely future scenarios, and
  • a clear plan for implementation

The recent coronavirus – a surprise epidemic, that has become a pandemic – has caused fear, phobia, misinformation, and panic. This has disturbed normalcy, and makes the general and executives think:

  • Why did we not pick this up?
  • What could we have done better in our planning to mitigate against this?
  • Could we survive? What resources will be needed to get through this?
  • Are we helpless and hopeless, mere sitting ducks?
  • How do we get moving in new trajectories?
  • What lessons could we learn from this?

2. It’s never too late to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate.

Can businesses learn lessons from evolution, viruses, mutations, and disruptions? Yes.

Evolution teaches us that all life forms strive to survive and replicate. This is true for businesses and organisations: survival and repeating successes. We also observe and learn that “evolution is blind”. This can be understood to mean that “evolution: change in organisms over periods of time and changes in environment” is unkind, unfeeling and has no foresight, intent or goal.

3. Is change over periods of time and environments “completely blind” for humans and business organisations?

Maybe not in the sense that something externally may plan for this organism to be something; but ‘not so’ in the internal sense that humans possess awareness, consciousness, and intelligence. This gives us some sense of control, or if you wish to argue: the illusion that we do. We are the only organism (homo sapiens) to “not just think, but to think about thoughts” – which allows for self-awareness, conscience/ morality and some sense of independence from our ‘internal and external environments’. “Evolution may be blind, but we’re not.”

Right now, the coronavirus pandemic necessitates a rush to take the right precautions and preventions but more importantly find the vaccine to protect us from the virus. And once that’s found, and we will feel a sense of normality and equilibrium – there will inevitably be something else that will disrupt. But, the virus could mutate and new fears begin – if there is no coordinated effort.

4. What should you do?

Business Strategy and the coronavirus is urgent. Planning strategically is important, and tactics will follow. Putting the right people in right places could be more important than strategy. What we need are wise, good and humane leaders to consolidate resources towards a collective cause. Leaders have to interrogate current political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental realities for future success that consider our interdependence on the planet.

“Today humanity faces an acute crisis not only due to the coronavirus, but also due to the lack of trust between humans. To defeat an epidemic, people need to trust scientific experts, citizens need to trust public authorities, and countries need to trust each other. Over the last few years, irresponsible politicians have deliberately undermined trust in science, in public authorities and in international cooperation. As a result, we are now facing this crisis bereft of global leaders that can inspire, organize and finance a coordinated global response.” – Prof. Yuval Noah Harari