Covid19, the coronavirus, is a major crisis with far-reaching consequences. It is not yet known how it will develop, how soon it will be contained, if and when there will be a vaccine. We assume – and hope – things will get better sometime soon.
But assuming is not enough in this case. Governments, scientists, people everywhere, are all working hard to minimize the spreading of the pandemic, and to minimize its health and economic consequences. There are many approaches, many ideas and it is not clear yet which strategy is the best.
There are probably more than one, depending on many parameters, which differ between countries and geographical areas, and the true leaders will lead their groups to safety sooner than others.
The questions raised in this crisis, for example:
- How to react initially?
- How to manage it on a regular basis, in a situation of great uncertainty?
- How to prepare for the (unknown) future?
These questions are similar to those we would be asking ourselves if our product/software falls into a big crisis.
Let’s say you came up with a product that was not properly tested, however it was launched and is a huge success, initially. Masses of users are hurrying to try it, and then…. it crashes. Now you don’t have a mass of users, you have a mass of angry users.
What next? How do you handle this bad scenario?
- It is still not clear what exactly is happening. The cause of the crash is yet unknown.
- You need to consider how to respond to your users/customers, but also to your investors, and even your own employees.
- You need to make short term, immediate decisions, and at the same time, plan for the long term. In all areas.
This only scratches the surface of the many challenges that you would face. Same as with the Covid19 pandemic, the unknown factors make it more difficult to take action and make good decisions.
We believe that there are several principals to follow for a better outcome. In countries that implemented them, we have seen better results, so far. It is clear that the one thing you cannot do is to ignore the issue, or continue business as usual.
Here are a few basic principles to follow, many of which we witness now around the world and apply to our business as well:
Well, first of all – Do not panic.
- Make short and long term plans, despite the uncertainty, and perhaps because of it. It is better to have a bad/mediocre plan, than none at all. Any chess player will tell you the same.
- Be transparent to everyone, about everything. This includes all stakeholders, which are, as mentioned before, everyone (users, customers, investors, employees, vendors, etc.). Do not hide anything – what you know about the problem, how you are planning to tackle it, what are the parameters you will follow and how will they affect/change your plans, if at all.
- Appoint someone responsible for the crisis. Mark it as a project. It can be the CEO, or any other C’, or even someone external.
- Considering the 2 previous items, make sure you have only one point-of-contact facing the world (whatever the world is in your case). This will ensure that you have a consistent, one only, clear message.
- Determine how the diagnostic process (i.e. tests) is done. Set quantitative and qualitative parameters for follow up and decision making.
- Take drastic steps in the first stage, be focused and strict with these first steps. They will set the ruler for the future outcome. Do not fear the initial costs – long term costs will be much higher if you fail with the first days/weeks reaction.
- Plan for a long term crisis right from the start. Do not assume it will soon be OK. If it does turn out that way, you will be happy anyway. If it doesn’t, and you’re not ready, the results can be catastrophic.
- If you get information that indicates that the crash is about to be solved, don’t be tempted to use this information. Wait until it is a fact. Only then start “going back to normal”.
- Use real data and analytics as much as possible. Don’t guess, don’t assume, try not to speculate or experiment. Know what data you need to answer any question, in all fronts you are dealing with, find this data and use it. Invest time and money in finding the data, if you don’t already have it.
And one for the road – leave your ego behind. Get help from anyone who can help. Don’t think of credit, politics, how things will look. Concentrate on the best way to handle the situation and win it.
Just a few thoughts from quarantine, trying to make the most of this time, what can I learn from it, how will I use it in the future.