COVID-19 virus and our economy. Uncharted territory – YES. But these are NOT unprecedented times from a business perspective. Think of other events that forced businesses to change or die: the Internet, Video Streaming, Starbucks, and Uber. In these cases companies had to change their business model to thrive.
I am observing many leaders thinking inward and focusing very heavily on safety as we adjust to whatever “new normal” comes out the other side. Do you need to run all the scenarios and be mindful of cash and take care of your people? Yes! Absolutely!
But we must also focus on how our companies will look and evolve in 6 months to a year. The COVID-19 virus will change how we shop, travel and work for at least a year or more. All our assumptions about customers, sales cycle and most importantly, revenue, may no longer be true. Is it conceivable that you can continue with the same business model that you have today?
These are HARD questions, but it is …
A Time To Lead
How do you lead and inspire your teams and staff amid a global pandemic that’s creating anxiety and uncertainty everywhere? One great perspective comes from General Colin Powell, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.Colin Powell
Companies that survive this crisis will have Leaders who can quickly assess new circumstances, recognize new patterns and opportunities, and act with urgency to pivot and restructure their companies. Those that don’t may not survive.
Here is one tool that can help you and your leadership team assess your business model, create clarity, and guide your preparation of a new operation plan.
The SWT Analysis
SWT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses and Trends. You may be more familiar with the traditional SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). The difference is a MINDSET for strategic thinking and execution planning. Verne Harnish of Gazelles Inc. developed the SWT approach. It can help focus you and your leadership team on how future trends will impact your company.
The SWT analysis is very relevant in today’s crisis and can be positioned as the foundation for your new planning. Download the one-page SWT here, and follow along with the explanations below.
These are inherent strengths of your company, the source of your success, that are not likely going to change in the foreseeable future. They are the basis for your planning. They must be taken into account in all your planning discussions.
These are inherent weaknesses of your company that are not likely going to change in the foreseeable future. They are the basis for your planning. They must be taken into account in all your planning discussions.
What are the significant changes in technology, distribution, product innovation, markets, consumer, and social trends around the world that might impact your industry and organization? (Note: Not just from within your industry!)
Which parts of your business model can now serve the new normal where business is booming – remote work/education, social cohesion over distance, telemedicine, home delivery, etc.? Connect the dots between what you want your company to be and what it might become within the trends you identify.
What do you believe the world will look like for each of the next five quarters? With the help of your SWT analysis, update your current quarterly plan or start a new plan from scratch. Make it clear and pragmatic and then, as Patrick Lencioni (author of The Advantage) advocates, over-communicate it.
I would like to conclude with this advice from Steve Blank’s recent blog. Steve is considered one of the fathers of modern entrepreneurship.
Survival = (speed of your understanding of the situation) x (the magnitude of the pivots/cuts/lifeboat choices you make) x (the speed of your time to make those changes)Steve Blank
“Notice that the word speed appears twice. This is not the time for committees, study groups or widespread consensus building. Even with imperfect information, the future of your company depends on your ability to make rapid decisions and start acting.”
I know it is tough out there. I wish you, your companies, and all of your families health and safety in the times ahead.
You can contact me to discuss the SWT at any time. Take action now. But act with compassion.
All the best
© 2020 David Paul Carter. All rights reserved.