How to become more adaptable out of the corona crisis

Due to tightened measures to limit the corona virus, a large part of the Netherlands was requested from one day to the next to work (together) as much as possible from home. Out of necessity, this led to an enormous boost of creativity among entrepreneurs to keep the business going, but also to maintain social contact with colleagues, customers and suppliers. Our consultants have worked with customers to find ways to get used to this new reality. In this understanding, we share our most important lessons learned from this period to date. What are the insights we have obtained? And how do you ensure that you retain the lessons learned from this turbulent period after the crisis?

With the corona crisis, the business operations of many organizations are turned upside down and organizations are reviewing their decisions and investments. Our consultants are active in many different organisations, which enables us to see what measures are being taken and what lessons have been learned. The two main topics we derive from this are: (1) dealing with uncertainty and (2) creating focus and understanding. These insights can help make your organization more agile, both now and in the future. Below, we explain these insights and share tools to apply them within your own organisation.

1. Dealing with uncertainty

We see that many organisations are coming up with ad hoc solutions to get through this crisis. These are extraordinary circumstances that are difficult to predict, which creates a lot of uncertainty. Two possible solutions to deal with this uncertainty are scenario planning and multiple sourcing.

Scenario planning With scenario planning, you develop and compare possible future scenarios and devise various measures to prepare yourself as well as possible for these scenarios. People naturally tend to make decisions within a realistic, recognizable frame of reference (eg based on historical data). To quote management guru Peter Drucker: “ The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic.” In other words, it is actually valuable to step outside your own frame of reference and think up different scenarios, even if they seem unlikely. Who could have thought at the beginning of this year that the whole world would suffer so much from the corona virus, and be largely 'locked'? Scenario thinking broadens your horizons and allows your organization to respond more flexibly and adequately, even under exceptional circumstances.

A creative way to come up with solutions for complex situations is design thinking. This is a method that allows you to think up solutions for possible future scenarios outside the usual frames of reference. Read more about this method below.

design thinking

Make-or-Buy and Multiple Sourcing According to the purchasing trend research - this year for the eighth year in a row published by the Procurement team of Supply Value - supplier management the number one purchasing trend for 2020. In the current uncertain times is that maybe more . The coronavirus has disrupted both production and transportation of goods around the world. This has direct consequences for many organisations, especially if they depend on one or a limited number of suppliers. The lesson learned is therefore that it is valuable to investigate whether it is possible to spread future risk and reduce dependency through multiple sourcing. This means that you purchase products or services from multiple suppliers and thus reduce your delivery risk. It is also advisable during this period to consciously invest in the relationship with your suppliers, in order to create more trust and transparency in the collaboration. Also consider what you can do together, for example by asking suppliers to jointly use the resources that are currently not being used due to the crisis for innovation projects. In addition, many organizations are now also (re)considering the make-or-buy decisions of strategic or bottleneck products and services. "Shouldn't we do this ourselves?" or 'can we afford to outsource this?' are current questions that will continue to be relevant even after this crisis. To reduce insecurity and dependence on others, 'doing it yourself' could become a logical choice.

2. Focus and understanding

To limit the corona virus, various measures are being taken by the government, which are being further tightened on the basis of new knowledge and insights. We see that mutual communication has increased in various organizations as a result, for example to communicate to employees how the policy of the organization will be adapted to the national measures. No one has all the answers these days, but by communicating openly about this as an organization, sharing concerns, and involving employees in the search for solutions, the distance between management layers is reduced. This creates mutual understanding and consensus about the chosen direction and policy more quickly, so that action can be taken more quickly. For example, we see that hospitals are fully committed to expanding IC beds; Public transport service providers are focusing on adjusting the timetable now that there are significantly fewer passengers; and politicians set up new measures within a very short time. All this can be achieved because one team focuses on one specific goal. One way to bring this focus into your organization, even after the crisis, is to apply the OGSM method when drawing up and executing the annual plan. Read more about drawing up a focused, effective annual plan here.

In addition, it is important to recognize that these circumstances can put more pressure on the domestic situation of employees if, for example, they take more care of their children during the day due to closed schools. This requires adaptability. By understanding and connecting on a personal level, you create an environment of trust, open communication and a sense of peace and security in this time of uncertainty.

How to become more adaptable out of the corona crisis

The corona crisis teaches us that in times of uncertainty there is an urgency to focus on one goal: getting through the crisis. You notice that as an organisation you often get more done now, because everyone has a clear focus. By proactively thinking about future scenarios in the future, having your chain and dependencies in view, and maintaining sufficient focus and understanding in your organization, your organization can more easily anticipate unforeseen circumstances.

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