The Next Normal


business leaders have a responsibility to respond to the COVID-19 crisis but they also need to consider how their company will recover and prosper in the post crisis world.


While there is no playbook for the COVID-19 crisis, a typical crisis plays out over three time frames:

  • Respond – Where a company deals with the present situation and manages continuity.
  • Recover –  How a company learns, plans to emerge stronger.
  • Thrive – When the company prepares for the “next normal”.


The priority of leaders at the beginning of a crisis is to focus almost exclusively on response. However, leaders must consider all three timeframes immediately and concurrently in order to effectively and efficiently allocate resources.

The recovery phase for COVID-19 will require unprecedented levels of planning, teamwork and coordination during what promises to be a challenging and protracted recovery period. Planning for this recovery now–even with uncertainty as the crisis continues will be repaid in more precise, considered actions, and a stronger bounce back.  The actions taken during this pre-recovery period can set the foundation for you to thrive and achieve sustained growth and performance as the crisis is managed and is eventually over.


moving From respond to recover: pivot from central command to planning and execution.

Most companies established a crisis management center during the response phase to assess the immediate impacts and provide direction and information to people, customers, suppliers, and other partners about immediate actions to mitigate risks. However, resilient organizations go further and begin contemplating how decisions will affect recovery.  They establish flexible plans for the recovery period.

As a result, in anticipation of recovery, the role of leadership will evolve, from a directive-oriented crisis mindset to enablement-focused orchestration. To anticipate and plan for this pivot to a recovery oriented posture, organizations should ask these questions:

• How do we know when to start pulling back from the containment measures put in place to ensure     the health and safety of our people?

• What are the leading indicators of the rebound to help us best time the launch of our recovery efforts?

• How have customers and markets changed due to COVID-19?  Will this be a lasting change or a transitionary change?  Are our products and services still relevant in a post-COVID-19 market, or must they adapt to new realities?

• How do we restart manufacturing and broader supply chain operations, considering the abrupt and uncoordinated nature in which supply chains were slowed or shut down?

• How do we manage working capital as operations restart and inventory and material orders build in an uncertain market? How can we maintain operational flexibility to serve customers while maintaining adequate liquidity during an extended ramp up period?

• How can technology be leveraged to better orchestrate cross-functional efforts within the company, as well as efforts across our extended supply chain partners, to synchronize supply to updated forecasts and demand signals?


not a new normal – a next normal

There will be unique opportunities  to develop innovations and transformations to define the “next normal.” The COVID-19 crisis is likely to accelerate fundamental teaming and structural changes that were inevitable in any circumstance.

Consider the “virtualization” of work—undertaken from home or elsewhere, with remote collaboration and reduced travel for physical co-location—has been evolving steadily. Today, all around the world, businesses and their talent are learning to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate on virtual platforms, and are understanding the increased efficacy and efficiency such modalities of work can provide.

Virtual work and collaboration tools are likely to create a booming new market space. The necessity to expand virtual work may even lead some companies to consider whether these changes should become more commonplace going forward.

In a major crisis leaders have a tendency to cut and wait.  Winners out of the recovery will be continually working on the plans they had before the crisis hit.  They may shift resources here and there but there is no waiting when you want to thrive and win.




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