Beyond Risk Management, Stay on Top COVID 19

| April 2, 2020

The Marathoner – Meegan Scott

Last Saturday, I made a round of calls to organizations in the hospitality sector. I was looking to purchase two sets of solutions for the not too distant future.

The representative from one establishment in the heart of Downtown Toronto told me “we are closed for business now and for the future”, figuratively that is.

Though the services I was trying to buy were to be delivered after the expected death and burial of the corona virus, she informed me that to her knowledge there was no one to process my request then or anytime soon.

I assured her that  I understood that organizations have sent home their staff because of this COVID 19 crisis but that I expect it would  only be  a matter of time  before the board and management would call a strategic planning meeting to review their strategy and for addressing sales.  I explained that it was likely that the senior management including the head of sales would meet virtually to assess what sales opportunities exist for the future and to lock in those deals now.

Even if the current uncertainty precluded them from closing sales, surely they would review proposals, assess inquiries and leverage that intelligence to chart a future for keeping their customers engaged and prospects in the pipeline as a means of continuing the business post the corona virus outbreak.

It was clear from her response that no such conversations were held and if they were the strategy and action plan had not been communicated to staff.  If we stop for a moment to think what will happen to staff morale and what could happen to human capital―individuals with a livelihood to secure in a scenario like the one I just described then you can see that not only the life blood of the organization is bleeding away but arteries and veins are being needlessly severed too.

Rest assured that staff that feel insecure about the future of the organization will jump ship no matter how loyal they are.  Besides organizations must take care of their people if they expect to count on them to take care of business and help them weather storms of the magnitude of the COVID 19 crisis.

Susie Grynol, CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. Photo courtesy http://www.alexsarnaphoto.com/

The organization had their risk management engine working but they had dropped the ball on risk intelligence.  That miss, allowed the guillotine to not only raise but to begin the descent on the neck of their business.

Like Leo Tilman I believe in leveraging “risk intelligence for navigating the unknown and for seizing opportunities” in times of crisis and disruptions. As Tilman says, it requires going beyond risk management to risk intelligence.  Organizations must bring the future into the present through ongoing environmental scanning,  strategic planning, strategy and tactical update, process, systems, supply chain and talent update for managing threats as well as to capitalize on opportunities.

Although I managed to convince the employee that management would have a backup plan and that we wanted to be among the first on their list for services when they put that plan into action she could not act. There was simply no operational Email address that she could provide for receiving our proposal.

I refer to an entity that delivers a great experience, in the heart of Canada’s business capital. Unfortunately, it operates within an industry that employed 309,800 people; but is now reeling from the closure of at “least 100 businesses”  a figure reported by Susie Grynol, CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.   While the business models of the eight thousand two hundred and eighty nine (8,289) establishments in Canada did not require that they operate virtually except for sales functions that larger chains outsource;  in times like these a quick switch to virtual for key administrative functions is a must while more detail planning is undertaken in the background.

It is essential to have the following in place for keeping your business alive during in these times:

  • an Email address to receive sales inquiries,
  • a plan for drawing intelligence from sales inquiries
  • a message and updated messages for engaging prospects and for ensuring employees are all informed and equipped to support
  • as well as an external objective pairs of hands and eyes to help with planning, virtually.

Though it may seem that closure is certain for your business you should still try to gather such information. It will help you better position to receive Government support or to open another business in the same industry.

Bear in mind that sales plans and targets  for the first 5 to 6 quarters of 2020 are now fairly useless, they require  frequent and rigorous review and update.  Organizations like Zoom and Chinese manufacturers of medical devices for whom COVID 19 have brought windfall earnings have not been speared they too face risk and threats posed by rapid growth in their operations.

They too must engage in more frequent planning as well as lean heavily on risk intelligence to survive in the face of emergent risks.

Risk intelligence is your lifeline for ensuring you and your business stay on top of COVID 19.  Get on top of COVID 19 don’t let it get onto of you.

About the author: Meegan Scott, B.Sc. Hons, MBA, ATM-B, CL, PMP., is Jamaica-born Strategic Management Consultant, at Magate Wildhorse Ltd in Toronto & New York.. This is a syndicated column and article.

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