Weathering the COVID-19 Storm

This is an introduction into weathering the COVID-19 storm. We all know we are in a time of real uncertainty with great risk to many businesses. Success comes out of how we respond to threats & risks and turn them into opportunities. At Acceler8 Consultancy, we have a proven 3 stage process to help businesses navigate these turbulent times. It brings together the best of strategy development and risk management.

1. Analyse the risks and respond to them:

Start with the familiar SWOT analysis to work out the current position of your business. Organise information in terms of consequences, not causes, as consequences that are similar need similar mitigating and recovery actions. This is where you need to ask some tricky questions such as “Who we are?  What do we do?  What do we do well, what not so well ?”. We can then consider how we respond by focusing on:

  1. Business survival and Securing the future: Strategy for surviving the immediate period of inactivity/lost core revenue (reducing costs, minimum necessary expenditure such as regulatory compliance) but also acceler8 plans you may already have like the retirement of old infrastructure as airlines are doing with the 747 jumbos.
  2. The Impact on our Employees, our Customers and Partners: Strategy to keep staff and partners safe and maintaining a duty of care, enable a more efficient and productive way of working (WFH) and to ensure the customer base is not degraded/lost during this period with clear communication plan including use of media and digital presence as well as ensuring customers are kept safe.
  3. Growth opportunities: Yes, with a market that has shrunk, growth is key, and therefore a strategy for increasing opportunities to identify and generate new income channels is needed, e.g. through online marketing (optimising digital presence), asset disposal even diversifying if necessary (such as the F1 teams building respirators) – be innovative and aware this may require a change in your business model.


2. Business Continuity and Rebuilding for the future:

Many Projects will have been put on hold as lockdown kicked in. Some projects may no longer make financial sense, and other new initiatives may have come into play. Finances are also likely to be tight. As a result, it’s important the first thing to focus on is to review and clearly identify the project and investment that will rebalance the portfolio to address the new strategic priorities. This ensures the potentially restricted finances are invested in the right areas to secure the business’ future, and this needs to happen quickly. In these circumstances there are four key ingredients the organisation needs to have in place:

  1. Be Agile and accept uncertainty: Act like a start-up company, avoid analysis paralysis, remember the Pareto principle of 80/20, prioritise your requirements on an MSCoW basis, have strong governance to control what continues and what stops and be honest with everyone that plans may need to change. While defining clear roles & responsibilities ensure that you reshape your organisation in a way that it can be agile and respond to a fast-changing market place.
  2. Use high performing programme teams: Makes sure you bring in teams that know how to deliver and deliver well, not as individuals, but as a team that works well together. For more detail, see our separate content on what makes a high performing team.
  3. Work with speed and control: The perennial challenge for businesses is how to deliver change at speed without losing control. Usually control processes for releasing funds and making decisions take weeks and months.
  4. Make timely decisions and investment: To weather the storm these decisions need to be made quickly. To do so with confidence requires a clear strategic plan that is:
    • constantly kept up to date
    • clear delegation of authorities in place with streamlined governance.


3. Manage and Monitor:

As the strategic plan gets delivered, you need to test, review and closely monitor the outcomes ensuring the plan meets the evolving needs of the business. Things that work well and things that don’t need to be identified quickly. This is then fed back to the analysis stage allowing the strategic plan to be refined and kept relevant. This will deliver the greatest value from your investment and ultimately, success. So the best way to weather the COVID-19 storm?  It is to use it as an opportunity to create a business that is fit for the new world.

For more detail, watch our videos below.

About the Author
A Change and Programme Management professional with international experience in business transformation, from strategy definition to implementation and covering all dimensions of change: sourcing, contracts, policy, process, IT, infrastructure, behavioural, organisational. John is a Fellow of the Institute of Consulting, a Change Management Practitioner, and MBA qualified who has delivered change and integration of customer facing, commercial, operational and back office capabilities in various organisations.

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