Here is an excerpt from an article written by Matt Craven, Mihir Mysore, Shubham Singhal, Sven Smit, and Matt Wilson for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out others, learn more about the firm, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.
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Amid the chaos and all the incoming advice, it’s hard to know exactly what leaders should do today. We suggest they focus their time in four areas:
o Support and protect employees in this brave new world. Many institutions have put basic protections in place for their employees and customers. Companies have activated no-travel and work-from-home policies for some workers and physical-distancing-at-work measures for others. The challenge is evolving. For remote workers, interruptions are more frequent than in the office. Making a mental separation from a sometimes-chaotic home life is tough. Workers are finding that they don’t have the skills to be successful in an extended remote environment, from networking to creating routines that drive productivity. They worry that staying remote could make them less valuable, especially in a recessionary environment.
As our colleagues recently explained, three goals are essential. Companies need to increase communication, balancing the needs of the business with expectation setting and morale building, so employees know that their well-being is top of mind. They also need to change working norms, making remote work practical and simple whenever possible. And of course, they must protect people’s health, with whatever measures are appropriate to the workplace: positive hygiene habits, personal protective equipment, amended sick-leave policies—whatever it takes to ensure health and safety.
o Monitor leading indicators of how and where the pandemic is evolving and conduct scenario planning using both epidemiological and economic inputs. Earlier, we sketched out the swing factors to watch to understand how the coronavirus pandemic might develop. As companies develop scenarios, they might want to consider the article “Safeguarding our lives and our livelihoods: The imperative of our time,” which details McKinsey’s nine epidemiologic and economic scenarios.
o Think about the next horizons of COVID-19. In the urgency of the moment, it’s easy to lose sight of the actions that might be needed tomorrow—and the day after that. The article “Beyond coronavirus: The path to the next normal,” explains the five horizons that every executive should use to ensure an organization’s rapid response, adaptation to change, and reemergence in a position of strength.
o Evolve the nerve center to plan for the next phase. Every assumption underpinning a business is open to question. To take one example, we might be in the midst of the largest drawdown in demand since the Second World War. The pendulum might not swing back fully once the outbreak has relented. Having experienced a new way of living, consumers are recalibrating their spending, increasing the likelihood that spending may permanently shift between categories and that online services could get adopted far faster. Decoding this new normal—and ensuring that the company has a strategy to navigate it—is an important part of the work of a nerve center. Approaches such as using a portfolio of initiatives and planning for decision making under uncertainty can go a long way toward creating a compass for business leaders to follow.
The next normal will look unlike any in the years preceding the coronavirus, the pandemic that changed everything. In these briefing notes, we aim to provide leaders with an integrated perspective on the unfolding crisis and insight into the coming weeks and months.
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Here is a direct link to the complete article.
Matt Craven is a partner in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, Mihir Mysore is a partner in the Houston office, Shubham Singhal is a senior partner in the Detroit office, Sven Smit is a senior partner in the Amsterdam office, and Matt Wilson is a senior partner in the New York office.