By | Ravi Santhanam | Executive Coach – Leaders & Teams
Yes, Restart is in the air, in more ways than one. Everyone is talking about it, from the Prime Minister to the Common Man. And, understandably, questions such as, when will we Restart, will it be one shot or staggered Restart, and if staggered will it be sector wise or geography wise Restart, are all in the air. How are you as the leader, going to lead your team through this?
This article is intended to catalyse your thoughts and not as a prescription! Treat this merely as a catalyst to help you exercise your leadership.
Let us, for the sake of convenience, breakdown the Restart Challenge into three categories, and then look at them closely. The suggested categories and the category wise indicative list are as follows.
Category 1 – Address KNOWN Problems
- Timing: What if Restart is 7, 14 or 21 days from now? How should we prepare for each possibility?
- Cash Crunch: How do we handle the triple whammy; fast moving payables, slow moving receivables and possibly tight money supply?
- Inventories: How do we deal with extreme imbalances? Some of our supply / delivery lines are overfull while others are totally empty.
- Responsibility: Our legal responsibilities for the safety and health of team and associates are known. What about our moral responsibilities?
- Social Distance: How do we ensure 6 feet gap in Lifts, Work Spots, Canteen and Commutes?
- Digitisation: Clearly digitisation is the way forward. How digitised are our current operations? How much more should they be digitised and how fast?
- Work From Home: WFH is here to stay. What all should we shift to WFH, right away? What more can we shift in the future?
A practical way to handle this category would be to task your larger team to identify the issues and come up with alternate solutions. You could then take the decision.
Category 2 – Address UNKNOWN Problems
- Time Lines: How would the three crisis’s, Medical, Economic and Human, play out?
- Morale: What are the fears and worries in the team’s minds? How do we get them to share them? And what do we do about them?
- Demand: When will demand revive? And when it does, will it be the qualitatively the same or different?
- Contracts: Who may claim force majeure? What can we do now, to minimise such legal tangles, for ourselves and others?
- Business Partners: What is the organisational health of my Suppliers, Customers and Financiers? Who can we count on? Who is counting on us?
These are tough ones to solve. One possible way is for you to sit down with your immediate reports, draw up 2 or 3 plausible scenarios, and develop a “broad strokes” plan, for each scenario.
Category 3 – Address UNKNOWABLE Problems
- Industry Structure: Will my industry structure change? Who is likely to buy up whom? And, how should we prepare for the resulting churn?
- Business Model: Will the way I make profits in my business change? If so in what way? How are my competitors likely to change their business models? How should I respond?
These are by definition unknowable problems and therefore it is not possible to find solutions. Nevertheless, you, the leader, need to grapple with these questions, so that you can spot, if and when they move to Category 2. To illustrate this above let me take a hypothetical case.
Let us say there is a B2B business, that designs, installs and services central air conditioning systems in commercial buildings. If, today there are ten players in a given geography, it is possible that the two strongest, acquire the two weakest. It is also possible that demand for new systems falls while demand for retrofitting existing systems with “virus proof filters” surges!
Summing up, we live in interesting times. A period of many problems, many challenges and also many opportunities. Leaders like you are the ones who have to lead their organisations, through all this, into the brighter New Normal!