Emerging From the Crisis: Look for Constants and What Won’t Change

What won't change?

Every week the tone and energy of the business community gets a little better. We are emerging from the crisis, but the question is how to do it strategically?

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, business was complex: rapid technological change; globalization; trade wars and tariffs; and mounting political instability. It’s hard to think back to what it was like four or five months ago, but it wasn’t an easy business climate.

Uncertainty was so omnipresent that we had acronyms for it like VUCA — volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Disruption was a common theme. I’ve written about it many times on this blog.

As a result, leaders focused on the areas within their control. We looked for “constants” — things that won’t change — to anchor a strategy.

For example, Amazon anchors its strategy on three constants. Amazon knows its customers want:

  • Lots of choice;
  • Low prices; and
  • Fast delivery.

In 2012 Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon said, “We know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

Brian Dumaine writes in Forbes, “If you were designing a company from scratch that could capitalize on a global crisis, it would probably look a lot like Amazon…. Almost overnight, Amazon ramped up its already massive online retail business to meet a huge surge in orders in the first quarter, as customers hunkered down at home and turned to the web for essential supplies.”

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That kind of response was years in the making. No one predicted the pandemic, but Amazon’s focus on its three constants made its value proposition indispensable in 2020.

Constants are a powerful strategic tool during periods of rapid change. You may not be able to predict the future, but you can navigate with constants.

Look for Constants through Change

To discover your constants compare your customers’ needs B.C. and A.C. (before coronavirus versus after coronavirus).

Covid-19 created a strange experiment none of us would have ever taken on our own. Whole sections of the economy and our businesses were closed. In this moment between B.C. and A.C., what didn’t change?

With your leadership team explore the two states by asking:

  • What problems are customers trying to solve with your products or services?
  • Who needs your company and its expertise the most right now?

Look at the needs. Look at what changed. Look at what stayed the same. You can find certainty by finding the constants.

The Decisions You Make Today Shape the Future

As we emerge from the crisis, strategy and planning are more important than ever before. What will your business look like at the end of this crisis?

That recovery horizon isn’t all that far away:

  • Where will your business be this time next year?
  • What will your business look like by the end of 2022?

The stakes are high. The decisions you make today may have ramifications for the next two years, and likely much longer. As you navigate the recovery stages of the crisis, you need to connect how today’s actions will define and shape future outcomes.

One of the major challenges of the past four months was short sightedness. Strategic plans developed before Covid-19 were abandoned, because a lot of organizations had no choice but to focus on surviving the immediate threats.

Taking a moment to study and understand the constants in your business can reconnect you and your team to your strategy. You can’t predict what will happen next, but you can keep moving forward.

In a Crisis, Strategy Is Everything

As the economy reopens, the opportunities for “Green Shoots” and growth are immense. Learn how to create a “Slingshot Strategy” to come out of the crisis stronger than ever. If you’re interested, call me (Jeremy Miller) directly at 416.479.4403, or check out our Crisis Marketing services.