The 2 main characteristics of this Crisis are its Unpredictability and the level of Changes
There is no point to plan further than 90 days when the evolution of the Crisis is unpredictable, and the level of Changes underway is significant. Rules of Business can change during Crisis. When the first 30 days of the Crisis have passed, a new 90 days plan can be elaborated based on the acquired experience and this plan will be updated on a monthly basis.
Although a Plan never fully covers reality, it is absolutely necessary to have one. Without benchmarks, even artificial ones, chaos and corporate paralysis due to random reflex actions will happen. A 90 Days Plan is what will be the New Plan A, with Plan B Assumptions analyzed. In the worst case of multiple Challenges, Plan C (worst) Assumptions should be chartered too.
There are eleven basic steps to run a Management Plan during a crisis, as follows:
1st step Start with positive communication.
- Be the Leading Speaker with confidence Run (virtual) town halls to all employees.
- Stop irresponsible speculation in crisis, at the embryo level.
- Communicate clearly, honestly and with a positive tone about what can be done for the Crisis, so as everybody takes their lead from you.
- Connect with Company Vision and Values.
- Review & address Company purpose, what really matters most, for all now.
- Define a communication process/officer and ensure that communication flows frequently.
- If working with HQs, communicate the expected crisis impact early. Manage expectations.
- Give a controlled positive and reliable spin to communication content, avoiding lies and false promises.
2nd step Create a new business model
- Examine deeply how the main components of your business model are affected by the Crisis.
- Decide fast which main processes need to be improved, disrupted, or removed altogether.
- Be open to new Products, new Services, and even new Markets, to start within a short period.
- Many small pivots can have a similar big effect and are easier to decide and execute fast.
- Changes in crisis can happen very fast, as long as it is clear the First Step.
- Source what works elsewhere and what not and reapply relevant best practices.
- Accept a certain degree of secondary chaos. It is not important if the mainstays are kept in position.
- Change where needed both your business model and its supporting story and communicate it to all.
- Build your Crisis Management Team around the new business model.
- Everybody must understand the new priorities and direction so as to act accordingly.
- A degree of thought and action policing is necessary.
3rd step Secure continuity of operations
- Secure Business Continuity by adjusting components of Operations to new Business Model & reality.
- The Supply Chain will be disrupted. Develop an Emergency Plan to roll-out after a calibration.
- Estimate how this affects your production and sales and communicate it early with your Clients.
- Make a joint plan of action, with all Teams involved.
- Focus on Inventory Management and ensure in time supply of raw materials and products.
- Re/self-train key stakeholders on new modus operandi.
4th step Cash flow
- Cash is king. Remember that in crisis, Revenues and Cash fall faster than the Expenses.
- Factor in the potential impact from missing Revenues, inability to collect Receivables, new Costs.
- Set-up strict cash milestones, to secure Business continues functioning.
- Continue payments to key Suppliers and Partners, cos you need them to be strong when the crisis is over.
- Cut or Delay everybody else.
- Extend your credit lines if possible.
- Closely manage to Consider shifting to pre-payment or to payment on delivery, if needed.
- Form a Team to chase as hard as possible for Cash, and to avoid being low in the payment queue.
- Monitor cash flow twice a day.
5th step The 90 days Plan
- Develop a lean plan, set 90 Days Goals, and reverse engineer to prioritize actions on how to reach Goals.
- Calibrate key Resources performance. Factor in key Assumptions of duration & of the level of changes.
- Deploy 90 Days Plan across Teams, with clear accountability and responsibilities.
- Go fast, while pivoting and calibrating Plan, if Assumptions or Resources change vs. Plan.
- Do not overestimate compliance issues. Those were designed for normal operations.
- Make sure that you keep a minimum of Quality Control and be prepared what to do if it deteriorates.
- Control your actions, and always “control the controllable”.
- Define Goals related, available, weekly/monthly KPIs, to use also as Key Prediction Indicators
6th step Marshall your people
- Select the Executives most suited to handle Crisis & Emergencies, to form the Crisis Management Team.
- Reassign Roles & responsibilities based on the new Business Model.
- First, ensure safety & health for all, then involve staff, even in brainstorming to mitigate risks.
- Focus on retaining your good people and show empathy to them.
- Communicate clearly what is expected from them, strengthen a positive mindset.
- Give them priority status and recognize them when delivering on expectations.
- Speed-up Decision Making and give empowerment to Leaders and Teams.
- Leverage WFH (Working from Home) time, to train, re-train, coach your staff.
- Prepare a milestone-based lay-off plan. If not performing, be strict and clear with
7th step Virtual is the new normal
- The first prerequisite is to clarify the needs of key stakeholders and decide on the type of technology needed.
- The key issues are the degree of maturity, cost, speed of application and easiness of adoption.
- Go for proven and supported technologies. If in doubt select a simple one. Make sure it works.
- Start building an Online Culture, allow time to settle, cos not everyone is at the same level.
- (Re)Train People on how to work with Technology, handle meetings/reporting, to drive
- Introduce and support People on cybersecurity and clarify business vs. personal usage.
8th step Sell and Service customers with compassion
- Keep on selling, unless obliged to shut down physically, then re-think the Business Model.
- Reflect Customer needs and the impact of the crisis on the quantity and quality of sales and services.
- Get closer to Customers than usual, and if face to face communication is not possible, make the extra effort to connect with customers virtually.
- Sell and Service without overpromising, but over-deliver where possible.
- Focus on the big loyal
- Find new channels, new customers, new services, you can serve during the crisis.
9th step Marketing must shift Business
- Make sure you get early & often the new numbers and study them. Become more
- Use the crisis to boost Market Share, to come stronger after 90 Days, when the crisis is over.
- Adjust the message and the means of communication to the new customers’ needs.
- Make sure you have the right Portfolio for the crisis and at the right
- Go virtual, viral and ensure that the new communication methods reach the customer properly.
- Communicate clearly what you can and what you cannot do.
10th step Build a strong mindset
- Lead with
- Embrace new Habits and Rituals. Take care of the health, physical and mental condition of all stakeholders.
- Take care of yourself as the Leader. Work hard, while always leaving something in the tank.
- Ensure that everyone has the feeling that everybody is addressing successfully the relevant part of the problem.
- Strengthen the Mindset of Ownership, Accountability, Responsibility, instead of Blaming, Excusing, Denial (BED).
- Stay connected with People and be aware of the company and market
- Allow tactical suggestions but crush defeatism.
11th step Update on a daily basis
- Evaluate the situation daily, Early Morning, End of the Day. To run a plan, you need to know the facts.
- Create separately, info sites for yourself, for the management team, and for General.
- Learn from the Crisis, and Act on the Learnings, where relevant for the 90 Days Plan.
- Be ahead with new communication to contain speculation.
- Act with
- Ensure that the 90 Days Crisis Management plan is adjusted and adhered to by everybody
- Stay focused, plan your priorities (rather than prioritize your actions) to secure business continuity, first through selling, then through cash flow management, then Operations.
- Always start with a Positive Communication, and with a Crisis Management Team.
- Call Experts ad hoc help, like Coaches, as required.
- Avoid a classic mistake in a crisis that is to undervalue the possible extent of changes needed.
- Stay flexible, avoid bias in decision making and avoid irreversible decisions that affect the future.
- It is only when the length and breadth of the Crisis are adequately understood that post Crisis Planning is meaningful.
- Acting too early is as bad as acting late. A 90 Days Plan is an on-going Process, every 90 Days.
- Don’t freeze your long-term Initiatives, just keep them in sight.
- Review these 90 Actions, develop your 90 Days Crisis Management Plan, start Now!
Last, always remember that Crisis is an opportunity. Leverage the Benefits of Crisis in a 90 Days Plan.