COVID19 - Strategy in Times of Uncertainty
Published by Zeinegul Salimova | 13th April 2020
At the end of 2019, before coronavirus made it to the news, several economists were already predicting an economic recession which would last for 12-18 months. These predictions did not manage to filter through other news or information to achieve wider recognition, but should have helped us to prepare for the situation we now face. What would individuals, organisations and companies do differently if they had known a global crisis was approaching?
Over the past few weeks, small business owners and decision makers in larger organisations shared that they felt uncertain and scared over the future of their businesses and well-being of their families. When people are scared, they are prompted to do new things and think outside of their traditional boxes to survive and create a new norm. What happens in our worlds right now redirects us, changes our focus and creates new behaviours.
Businesses should prepare to make their post-crisis recovery as quick as possible by developing new business behaviours and setting the stage for the new world. Below is a selection of the activities which businesses can run to take control over the uncertainties.
Develop scenarios. It is obvious there is no business as usual and what may be the new norm is unclear. Having alternative views of the future help to forecast demand for your product or service and identify potential supply, logistics or competition issues. Scenarios can be developed by an in-house strategy team or with the facilitation of consultants.
Adjust your business model. Your business model may not work anymore and may not be competitive in the new business realm. As it was seen from the manufacturing industry, only businesses with agile manufacturing were able to respond quickly to the market needs and changes. Alex Osterwald’s Business Model Canvas is a great tool to use for reviewing a business model as the canvas captures all the important areas for consideration.
Reinvent your product and/or service. Service providers were hit the hardest, as a sharp drop in demand for services cannot be offset by future surge. Restaurants and cafes quickly moved from offering a service (ambience, smell, etc) to offering a product: takeaway food, thus increasing revenue from customers who want to make their home meals more exciting. Suppliers who were able to open their services and delivery to a larger customer base saw an upsurge in their online sales. The entertainment industry is looking at digital platforms to match the virtual experience with the real excitement. For businesses that do not know where to start, a traditional SWOT analysis can be a perfect tool to identify strengths and ways to respond to market challenges for the business’s benefit.
Develop a new proposition. Your market is quickly changing, so are the needs. Understanding customers’ needs may be hard, however market trends could be an indication of what those could be. The Scenario planning exercise mentioned above allows elaborating on potential market needs and finding a proposition that will be sustainable in any alternative future. Holding a virtual workshop with stakeholders from different teams, who could contribute their thoughts and ideas on what may be of value in alternative futures, will be the first step.
Work on your marketing. There is always a range of activities that can be done: from generating valuable content to starting an honest and relevant dialogue with stakeholders to monitor competition and to identify potential opportunities and gaps. These marketing activities should have a purpose and serve an overall company’s mission. Clear and honest communication should form the basis of your content creation and marketing research should give an answer to a ‘so what?’ question.
Zeinegul Salimova is an independent strategy consultant, who has worked in the energy market since 2005. She has led strategy development and implementation projects covering energy supply, renewables, waste to energy and has supported utilities and engineering clients such as EDF, Doosan, MHPS and CNIM in the UK, Europe and Kazakhstan. Zeinegul’s experience and skills as a strategy consultant, would be of most value to clients looking for someone to develop a new value proposition, formulate and implement go-to-market and recovery / growth strategies. She is confident leading strategy formulation workshops, undertaking wider market analysis and pull together complex thoughts into a clear business strategy on behalf of senior leaders. Zeinegul has been a TUME Associate since September 2019.
The Utility Market Experts offer experienced support to utilities clients trying to deal with great uncertainty
The current economic environment is unprecedented. We are right to protect the health of ourselves, our people and our businesses first; but at the same we need to be formulating recovery plans protect everyone’s longer term well-being. The future impact is unclear, we all ‘hope’ the situation does not last much longer. But ‘hope’ is not enough. Now is the time our people and stakeholders look to us for strong clear leadership. We need to plot the best paths forward to ensure we are successful under the new norm, outlining scenarios, reviewing progress and reinventing our market propositions. Nobody knows what the future holds. However, risks and opportunities can be captured & structured, future scenarios can be formulated and an agile strategy can be formed to ensure you are in the driving seat.
If you are a corporate business leader and are unsure over the impact of this unprecedented situation on the future success of your business, it may be wise to solicit experienced independent support. If you would like an introductory chat with a like-minded experienced professional then please contact us below or contact one of our TUME Consult Lead Consultants here
If you are a smaller organisation (or already further ahead in your thinking) and may simply benefit from design & planning support then a TUME Interim independent expert (such as Zeinegul) can support your deployment. Please contact us below or link in with Zeinegul here