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The Vexing Problem of Transitioning from Crisis Management to Recovery Mode
September 23,2020 [ by Larry Chao ] 186 Read and 0 Comment

Managing the pandemic crisis and planning for recovery are two discrete challenges with seemingly conflicting priorities. They both need to be addressed effectively.

In a scary way, managing an uncertain recovery is tougher than managing in crisis. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, it was all hands-on deck just to stabilize the situation and find one’s bearings. Safety and business continuity were the single-minded focus of everyone.

But as we struggle to move from crisis management and stabilizing businesses to rocky recovery, we are faced with a different set of challenges, made more difficult by uncertain environments. Suddenly our priorities seem conflicting and are less easy to manage.

Three short examples: [1] While we want to create more resilient supply chains, this thinking runs counter to everything we practiced in the past related to supply chain efficiency. [2] In our last six months, we have taken immediate steps to ensure worker safety and adjusting to changing customer and consumer habits, yet at the same time, we now need to plan strategies to manage the future. [3] Today, our leadership battle cry is “empower teams and delegate decision-making!” Yet all our leaders and people have been conditioned over the years to command and control and follow protocol.

For business leaders to mount a comeback in 2021 and thrive in 2021, it will be important to manage these seemingly contradictory priorities, so that businesses finish building strong foundations and move in the right direction. It will not be easy, as the market context in which we operate is constantly shifting. At the very least, therefore, it will be important to know the goals and understand the role of short-term crisis mode and longer-term strategic planning, and how they fit together.

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