How will the near future look like? In how far will the Covid-19 pandemic affect our ways of living, working and interacting? In our new blog-series “A Glance Forward – The World After Coronavirus” we will deal with possible consequences and opportunities that may appear in the future. In this fourth and last post of this series, we want to provide an overview on how companies might have to act during and after the crisis to stay fit.
The decade of resilience
“Whatever it takes!” is the common slogan by the governments all over the world. The economy must be saved at all costs. To get everything back to the way it was. But this is exactly a one-dimensional approach – and therefore too little. The decisive factor in looking at post-corona ecology is a systemic-sustainable way of thinking that sees the economy as a sub-system of society and also examines the interdependencies with other sub-systems such as politics, science, law or religion. For the Corona crisis has not only massively affected the economy: all systems of society have been brought to their knees, in an unprecedented global simultaneity. The profound change that Corona is bringing to society also has an impact on the economy. And with the shift in society’s values, value creation is also changing. The phase of “Whatever it takes!” is therefore not automatically followed by the hoped-for “comeback”. Rather, the corona crisis initiates a protracted process of renewal. The 2020s will be a decade of resilience.
Let the past go
With the Corona Crisis, our world is now experiencing not only the much-cited process of “deceleration” – or, in the olden days, also: the emergency stop before the crash – but above all a gigantic deconstruction of everyday life with all its economic effects. It has become more visible what holds the world together – and what does not. What strengths we had – and what weaknesses. It is important to recognize this. But not for a linear future, because there is no going back into this world. The shutdown has triggered developments that are not reversible. Nostalgia is a private matter, but not a program for the future. Therefore, the motto “Let it go” applies: Let the world before Corona go. The continuation of the past is not our future.
A time of opportunities
In the phase of economic first aid and revision, companies are still beginning to seize new opportunities. In times of massive upheaval, gaps and opportunities arise that will not return so quickly. The phase of crisis becomes the most enterprising time of many decades. Because the Corona crisis affects all systems equally, now is the time for new entrepreneurial thinking and action. Because at the end or after a crisis is the time of visionaries. Every visionary idea of the world and economy is now in pole position. When the world asks, “When will it end?”, visionaries say, “We’re just getting started.” Many good designs can be observed where creative people have already implemented their ideas of another possible world. Anyone who has thought such ideas through, now has the best prerequisites for entrepreneurial success. Because the post-corona economy is developing new networks at a speed never imagined – and suddenly, what hardly anyone thought possible before is now possible:
- A premium restaurant switched to drive-in service and delivery in no time. à
- A cloud based software for hospitals was developed to enable remote monitoring of intensive care patients. à
- In California, robots are delivering medical goods to hospitals in order to minimize human contacts. à
- Many companies are using the time to for going digital, re-building their websites and adding online services to their portfolio etc.
- Explainable Artificial Intelligence is used to protect health and privacy. In some regions of Europe, however, this technology is also being tested for monitoring citizens.
Stay in the game
In order to stay in the business world after Corona, companies need the ability to adapt as a basic competence. They must equip themselves for this structurally, strategically and culturally.
Structurally: Self-organization of the employees is the order of the day. This also requires trust. Managers who believe they have to control everything will end up in burnout within weeks. But self-organization is not an end in itself. The purpose of the company provides the framework. It is within this framework that people move and structure their work. Glocal, digital and equipped with models and tools of complexity.
Culturally: The basis of modern organizations – and the basis for self-organization of employees – is trust. Exchange, meta-communication and intelligent handling of resistance are also crucial for success. Self-organization is not a brave new world. There are always conflicts and diverse opinions.
Strategically: The strategy uses future business models to remain integrative and situational. The necessary adjustments require “rough data” (based on the definition of Harald Katzmair) – data that is not always detailed and not exclusively computer generated, but well-founded and above all: thought out in context. The strategy is about thinking and mindsets, about context and understanding feedback. Future business models must take this into account in order to achieve strategic effectiveness. Strategy is a perpetual design process whose product is decisions. The quality of strategic decisions is measured by their connectivity. Every decision must be able to refer to previous decisions and enable further decisions. Strategy is the flow of the employees in making decisions.
Act now and act smart
Companies are there to solve problems: What problems do we solve now and in the future? Entrepreneurial identity, including vision and concerns, is becoming a prerequisite to avoid stumbling. Because: If you are only quick, you can also quickly do the wrong thing. But now it’s all about doing the right thing quickly. Therefore, the idea of this time is to act fast – but always with an eye to the bigger picture. It’s a question of attitude and mindset, not just commercial skill. “Ingenuity, not just financial muscle, will become a source of advantage, allowing cleverer firms to operate closer to full speed,” writes the Economist (Economist 2020). Ingenuity is the source of the future. Ideas are needed – but not just any ideas.