Crisis Management- What is Your Game Plan?

Managing through a crisis can be best compared to coaching in a hockey game where you have to make in-game adjustments on the fly, but the game does not end, and you do not have all the facts. But you need a game plan to execute that you can deviate on fly at the right time. That’s right you can pull out that secret play out at the right time to win the game. I don’t think we need to pull the goalie yet as the game has just started.

Here is a theoretical projection of what might happen, we could be wrong but we need a plan. The timelines are estimates only as health agencies are concerned with only Phase 1 as your company should be. But we need to be prepared and plan ahead. The timelines of these scenarios can change on a weekly basis, due to the success of Phase 1 as you will need to be able to pivot your company at the right time.

COVID-19 Business Planning Framework

March – September

Stage 1-  Stop The Spread – March – May 

Social Distance, remote workers and travel restrictions. Essential Services only

The USA is under quarantine until Mid May with a 8 week social distance alert issued by the Centre of Disease and Control. No groups over 50 are allowed. This timing will effect Canada as we are economic partner and are very integrated in the supply chain. The situation has evoked emergency status at the all government levels  as the worst case scenario is known and extreme action is needed. The schools will be closed for the rest of the year in Canada and the USA.  Gloves and masks will be used in public encounters becoming the norm as part of  It is “Better to be Safe than Sorry” prevention strategy.

Korea one of the early hot spots showed a steady decrease in cases and it has been attributed to a variety of factors, including mass testing, improved public communications and the use of technology. Germany’s medical infrastructure helped keep the mortality rates lowest of all nations as they had peak demand capacity for hospital beds. China will be lifting their quarantine in April, but only workers that have been tested will be allowed back to work and must have a QR code as proof.

A 2 month social distance period is required to halt the spread based on medical evidence. The world needs to stop moving for 4 weeks is the wisdom that is being shared to stopped imported cases.

Stage 2: The Medical Double Check – June – July 

Social Distance, remote workers, travel screening, workplace screening. Business is back to work

During this stage we look at the practices being used in South Korea and China that are still forming as a potential model. This stage will have pre-screening for travellers for body temperature and workplace screening for the virus. China is adopting a QR code and smartphone tracking for this. New medical clearance stamps will be required on all pasports for travel. In Canada and the USA, this will be a permission base system as China is state controlled.

This will be a semi-quarantine period, in case their is a rebound and a double check by the medical community. Semi-normal activities will resume with groups under 200 to support retail establishments. Large events will not be staged during the period as pre-screening for body temperature would have to be set-up. The economy will see the effects of any government stimulus on the economy as the government deals with the spike in claims. China in April started to get back to work and that may aid in the recovery of the global economy.

Stage 3: The New Normal –  August/September

Business is back to work, travel screening, workplace screening

At this stage it is hoped that life will resume to normal activities and people are back to work. This is the period where the economy resumes normal activity.  Mask and gloves are no longer needed for public interactions, but retailers have now installed protective screening for cashiers as a preventative measure. Workplace screening will be required to maintain safety and will act as the last medical double check as mass testing is required. Online screening is available at provincial health websites. A vaccine for public use will not be ready until 2021, based on estimates, so preventative measures will stay in effect.

At this stage it is hoped that sales will rebound that started in Phase 2, it is anticipated it will have a bungee jump effect and the downward spike will jump pack , but it is felt it will not be prevalent in hard hit industries like pro sports, casinos, movie theatres, travel and tourism that have large live audiences or gatherings. The spike in consumer demand during the hoarding panic it is expected to resume to normal demand levels. Pent-up demand for large tickets items like home and autos will depend on job security that still may be fragile as companies recover.

7 Tips in Managing a Crisis from a Management Consultant

Bruce Good
Management Consultant at Connective Intelligence

Here are the 7 tips from Bruce Good, a management consultant at Connective Intelligence, who has learned about how to deal with major business disruption.  These tips based on his experience comes as a result of living through Y2K with IBM and Sars with IMS and the advice of managements consultants.

1. Communicate, communicate,  communicate…., internal and external, remember your purpose as an organization

2. Ensure the safety of employees

3. Establish a dedicated team to deal with the issue, not just HR, recommend the cross-functional team

4. Know your stress points and liquidity/cash flow options

5. Don’t forget your clients!!

6. Document your supply chain and assess risk and response alternatives

7. Identify the decision-making process and clear areas of responsibility to all and if necessary set up the “WarRoom” to meet frequently!!