As Irish business reeled from the most recent lock down guidance in reaction to the covid-19 virus Susan Clancy, BPI Services’ webinar outlining a Business Crisis Recovery Framework could not come at a more timely moment of reflection.

In the webinar she explored insights to prompt discussion about how to instil a thriving Business Mindset in organisations and Strategically Plan for Success in current crisis mode and during times of economic uncertainty.

The framework outlined the key components of a Leaders playbook to manage through crisis, as well as highlighting the critical role of the leaders in managing the current business issues and as well as  planning and preparing for the next phase of recovery.

The four stage framework was developed with Allana Brown, a Corporate Leadership Development Consultant  (who has also delivered a webinar for the ICBE) to craft a practical framework that Business Leaders can utilise and adopt to not only plan and manage a crisis but to further their thinking to plan for recovery. 

The four stages outline are

  1. Rapid Response Planning
  2. Adapt and Manage
  3. Recover and Strategise
  4. Move from Survive to Thrive

“Whilst none of us know the time frames to this crisis, it is pivotal at least as leaders that you are crafting in some time now for these stages and not waiting until they are upon you” stated Susan using the analogy of a bridge to represent the building blocks a leader needs to consider.

Rapid Response Planning

This stage is largely an internally focused exercise and is predominately concerned with leading the crisis management efforts, protecting staff in line with government and governance compliances and navigating the business within those guidances. 

During this stage the first consideration is the leadership and protection of staff followed by the business process and operations management, the supplier and customer management and Internal and External Communications Management. 

Organisations with crisis management teams in operation (with dedicated roles and responsibilities) should have a collated checklist covering everything from how the business is adhering to the HSE Covid-19 recommendations (hygiene and social distancing) through to status on items such as your onsite visitor policy, plans for remote working/those operating as essential, managing shift pattern changes and adhering to working time acts and GDPR guidelines. 

Susan outlined the leadership qualities needed to manage this complex and the evolving set of considerations and reminding leaders that they also need to question how they are working with finance to review your cash flow strategy.

She also reminded the attendees on the webinar about the importance of delegation so they are not knee deep in firefighting and able to stay one step ahead.  They should also utilise the cross functional expertise, testing and process expertise they have may through trained lean practitioners within the organisation.

Adapting and Managing

As witnessed this week guidelines change and Susan warned that there may need to toggle back and parallel work the previous stage  with robust action trackers, tightnet governance and evolved decision making process with defined roles and responsibilities.

Susan also advocated well thought out communication plans and a taking a rigourous approach to employee engagement that should feature a regular cadence and review process to check-in on those tasks on a regular basis. 

During this second stage the focus is on the external and internal obstacles that are preventing or limiting normal day to day communications ensuring effective leadership. 

As the crisis evolves plan for upskilling and cross-training may also need to be planned.

Susan outlined the importance of support structures for leader stating “You need to have someone to communicate to, to take a breath yourself and don’t let all these tasks overwhelm you.” 

Without proper planning and delegation leaders can find themselves stuck in the day to day runnings and in firefighting and catch up mode.

With continuous improvement mindset in mind Susan asked “When you do scenario planning with the leadership team, is it productive, do you get through it remotely in an efficient manner with good logical thought, clear roles and responsibilities, action driven conversations and robust tracking and follow up?”

Mirroring the changing remote work structures Susan also reminded the webinar attendees to query what visual management systems they have in place to ensure that processes are running productively and efficiently. 

Talking the glass half full approach and mirroring comments from Sean Brady’s webinar, which revealed that the Chinese definition of crisis meaning Danger & Opportunity, Susan pointed out that some companies are adapting their business in short and medium term that could potentially improve innovative, creative, customer based solutions and substitution strategies. 

Recover and Strategise

“We know that there is a good chance we will not be able to just click a switch and return to work the way it was before. We dont know what the reality is going to look like but it could be a phased return to work” warned Susan while encouraging leaders to adopt a recover mindset now and start scenario planning the recovery phase. 

Central to this mindset is analysing the lessons that have been learned and utilising them as an input to the revamping of your strategy for the future. 

This could uncover unneeded past activities, the development of new activities and improving current activities.

Reflecting the potentially seismic changes in the business world and the need for strategic vision Susan encouraged people to ponder “Have your business processes changed or have your suppliers and your customers changed their practices which in turn may have either a positive or negative effect on how you conduct your business.”

She also proposed that even in crisis mode leaders should review their people management processes for lessons learned and capturing them now. 

Her final point on this stage was that a crisis doesn’t make a strong leader but it certainly reveals one. 

Move from Survive to Thrive

“The business world may see a number of changes post covid19 such as more remote working, more focus on the value of travel and its expense to a company, tighter business continuity and more innovative partnerships between companies” stated Susan while challenging companies to ask themselves some key questions such as: 

  • What can you plan now to build a thriving business mindset for the long term which will be capable of withstanding recessionary times? 
  • What are the components you should be planning now that can be a positive input into your customer and people centric leadership and business differentiation strategy?
  • How can you ensure you contribute to leading your business to be unique and differentiated. 
  • What behaviours (albeit remote) can you sustain, improve and grow?
  • How will you create an environment both for yourself and your teams to enable success in the long term?
  • What inputs can you derive over the coming weeks as inputs to your leadership strategic thinking, strategic planning, communication skills and authentic leadership to reduce firefighting, create stability, generate capacity and build capability for your organisation in to the longer term?

Summary

Susan finished the webinar by summarising the four components of the Business Crisis Recovery Frameworkwith a series of questions for leaders to ponder.

While considering the Rapid Response Planning phase she asked “Are you effectively leading the crisis management efforts, protecting your staff in line with government and governance compliances and navigating your business within those guidance’s? Do you have a crisis management team in place, a robust live status checklist, have you a delegation strategy in place to allow you to move through these stages rather than in firefighting mode and are you exhibiting authentic, agile and resilient leadership? Are you fully utilising your lean resources intelligently?”

On Adapting and Managing she questioned “Are you managing your rapid response effectively, upskilling and training? Are you scenario planning, what visual management monitoring systems do you have in place to ensure your systems and processes are running productively and what short-to medium term adapting are you doing to your business?”

In order to Recover & Restrategise she encouraged leaders to ask themselves “What lessons learned are you collecting the raw data for currently, on your business, your process, your systems, your people, your engagement, your culture? How can you utilise the next few weeks to enhance your strategic thinking, and craft your vision for your business, your team and your role for the future?

Finishing the webinar on considerations for the Move from Survive to Thrive she asked “What can you plan now to build a thriving building mindset for the long term? What are the components of uniqueness that make your business people and customer centric?”

Susan’s presentation can be viewed below.

Susan-Clancy-ICBE-Webinar-3103-min

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