Rebuilding From a Crisis: Are You Focused on the Horizon or the Bottom Line?

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No matter what business you’re in, the world looks much different to you now than it did in February. While you’re probably working like crazy to stay afloat until COVID-19 passes, you also know things will never truly get “back to normal.”

For those companies with the financial reserves and spiritual resolve to withstand the storm, that may not be bad news at all; especially if they build the “next normal” on the right foundation. After all, there’s nothing like a crisis to show us what we value most.

The Next Normal

The real question is: Are you building your company’s next normal with the intention of carrying out its mission – or just enabling commerce to make a few bucks?

The best corporate leaders know they need a meaningful mission to give purpose to their work and to rally their teams. But somewhere along the way, daily life interferes.

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Since COVID-19 hit home, we’ve all been forced to become fast innovators, to cut out the corporate red tape. We learned how to function with a remote workforce. We eliminated some of those meetings that, as it turns out, could have been emails after all.

In our personal lives, we’ve done the same. We eat together as families more often and walk our dogs more. We watch our finances more closely and use technology to connect with friends and family including our houses of worship.

In short, we are behaving more like the people we aim to be.

So when it’s safe to breathe in the same room with your colleagues again, will you revert to the way things were before?

Maybe some of what you stripped away from your company’s daily operations wasn’t mission critical after all.

Your customers certainly won’t go back to business as usual. A J.D. Power survey in mid-March showed that 4 out of 5 people plan to change something about how they live, from going out to eat less often to ordering products online for home delivery more often.

Questions for the future

Some questions you might ask yourself as you determine your company’s road map for the next six months (or even the next five years) include:

Are you putting your people first, or your profits? The companies that survive – thrive, even – during this crisis are probably the ones that empower their people the most.

Are you looking at the horizon? Ignore the giant, emotional objects hurtling toward you. Stay focused on facts and data that will inform your next strategy.

Are you focused on survival or on opportunity? Your customers are changing their habits every day; your business should be adapting ahead of them.

Are you creating value for your customers? Look at what you produce and how you produce it. Would you pay what you are charging? If the answer is yes, are you sure your customers see it the same way?

The McKinsey Crisis Stages

A recent McKinsey report describes five horizons that companies must act across during this crisis: resolve, resilience, return, reimagination and reform.

These stages represent a battle being fought on many fronts, in the present and in the future. They represent problems to be solved now (resolve and resilience to address immediate needs) and possibilities yet to come (return to scale, reimagining of what’s next and reforming of our business environment).

Somewhere in there, between resilience and return, I would suggest adding another stage: reorientation.

Does your company’s mission statement say that your purpose is to make humans better in some way with products, services or experiences that add value to their lives? Or does it say your purpose is to get people to come to your location and spend money?

Chances are, it’s the former. Furthermore, if you could fulfill your company’s mission in a more meaningful way using tactics and policy changes that came from this crisis, would you be brave enough to try?

Better question: Can you afford not to?

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