There were probably very few business continuity plans that were actually fit for the chaos of 2020. A global virus pandemic felt about as likely as an alien invasion for many; like something we’d see in a film. We’re certainly yet to understand the full extent of the damage that the pandemic has had on businesses and the ripple effects are far from over. We’ve all learned that you can’t predict what’s going to happen next, but there are lots of things that business leaders can do to prepare for the uncertainty and further potential disruption that the future holds.
Danielle Heward, is a business and operational change expert and the owner of business improvements company DH Professional Solutions, working with purpose-driven leaders to implement people, process, technology and information improvement solutions in their businesses. Danielle shares tips on how to be ready for anything.
At the start of the pandemic many business owners wanted to sit tight, unsure how long the disruption would last, waiting to ‘get back to normal’. Very soon, however, it became clear that it was going to be necessary to find a way to keep going.
There were some incredible innovations, such as digital, manufacturing and health solutions. But businesses that needed to adapt to the situation all seemed to fall somewhere on a spectrum:
- Able to completely change what they were doing to respond to the new world needs,
- Able to change on the surface, but with systems, processes and structures being left behind and taking some effort to catch up
- Being unable to change quick enough and really struggling to survive
So how can you be more future-proof?
Purpose & values
If you need to adapt your business model or target market, your vision and mission may change and you may even need to tweak your purpose, depending on the extent of the change, but your values will likely remain the same. If you’ve worked on embedding those values within your business and they are really evident in your way of doing things, this will help ensure your integrity and help ensure your team remain on board as you guide them towards your new goals. With the current state of the world, it’s also a good idea to consider incorporating environmental and social goals into your business.
Set your people, processes, technology and reporting up in a way that highlights opportunities and enables a quick turnaround when you need it. You want quick routes to decision-making, simple documentation of processes and ability to customise your systems. This means that whatever happens, you’ll be able to change direction more quickly, helping you respond more quickly to new demands.
Business risks and opportunities
Business risk management is something that should be done on a regular basis. Alongside your operational efficiency activities, if you’re undertaking competitor analysis, SWOT analysis and horizon scanning activities at appropriate intervals, you’re more likely to spot risks and opportunities as they emerge.
Look after your people
Whether this is your team, partners, suppliers or peers, both you and your business will benefit from clear and effective communication, consideration of everyone’s perspectives and involvement in decisions from those who have an interest in what you’re up to.
Your own resilience and mental wellbeing
Danielle believes this is arguably the most important point to consider. Humans are more resilient to change than we give ourselves credit for, however we can only do our best when we are feeling our best. Make sure you’re maintaining a healthy work-life balance and making time for things that make you happy. You could consider investing in a coach, looking into personal resilience techniques or meditation.