Even when COVID-19’s impact is diminished and the government gives you the green light, you still have to choose if, how, and when to reboot your business. The smart way is to reboot only the parts that can be successful. Then deliberately move through virtual steps before physical steps, over-communicating emotionally, rationally and inspirationally every step of the way.
Choose whether or not to reboot
The world is never going to be the same as it was before COVID-19. Assess what’s changed temporarily, permanently, and fundamentally across customers, collaborators, capabilities, competitors and conditions - including environment, social and government as Neal Kissel highlights in his note on 5 lasting changes CEOS need to be planning for now.
Think through scenarios and your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, to develop a new view of your leverage points and business issues at this point of inflection and how those impact your strategy, organization and operations.
Use that to help figure out which parts of your business, if any, can and should be:
Choose how to reboot
Your customers are never coming back. Yes, the sun will come out. The bans will be lifted. Business will resume. But things will never be the way they were before. Each of us is changed. Our businesses are changed. Given that, there is no chance that your old offerings are going to meet the needs, hopes and desires of your changed customers without changes. Trying to sell your old offerings to the customers you had is a recipe for disaster. Instead, take a marketing, puzzle-solving approach to rebooting your business – creating, delivering, and communicating new offerings.
Those approaching problems with a marketing perspective, start with potential customers’ needs, hopes and desires and then figure out ways to create, deliver, and communicate offerings that satisfy those potential customers.
This is different than those approaching problems with a sales perspective, who start with existing offerings and figure out how to find, serve, and satisfy the most appropriate customers for those offerings.
And, this is why the most successful organizations are going to tackle marketing first, then sales as part of rebooting their businesses post COVID-19.
Choose when to reboot
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put it well in his April 13, 2020 joint press conference with other Northeast governors. He said we should reopen, but reopen “with a plan, with a smart plan, because if you do it wrong it can backfire.” He went on to say we need to “take one step forward. See how it works. Then you take the next step.” And everyone’s plan may be different because the plans have to “fit the facts and the circumstances.”
With that in mind, think and act in steps.
Physical steps: No employees, allies, or customers should return until it is safe. Then use scientifically appropriate tests to determine which individuals can return to:
Communication steps: Wrap it all in emotional, rational and inspirational mood-countering leadership communication – as you should be doing more frequently than you ever imagined appropriate through the crisis and restart.
The optimistic future view goes to meaning and purpose: mission, vision and values. Ground all your communication in values: be – do – say.
The call to practical action is direction-giving, making people part of the solution, whatever part they are playing for their own and the greater good.