To get out of the crisis stronger, think big

6 April 2020

David Landsman, Senior Advisor

Here’s an odd thought for today: you might have noticed that Greek wine has much improved in recent years in quality, variety and availability.  This is largely because the Greek debt crisis acted as a spur to innovation, collaboration and new dynamism.   And crucially it was in the middle of the crisis that this success started.  What are the lessons for creating the future at what could be just the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis?

Part of the solution, or part of the problem

Right now, many businesses are “heads down,” taking difficult decisions, some fighting for survival.   Those who focus on the implications of their strategy for stakeholders are seen as “part of the solution.”  After the crisis, they can be on the front foot.  Those who aren’t are “part of the problem,” and won’t be forgotten.

Today, incredibly, almost every business has become to some extent dependent on the government.  Every day the media is full of pleas for support from one sector or another: children’s nurseries today, garden centres tomorrow.  In a few months’ time researchers will be able to see who did best and discover why.  But the answers are available now.

An important ingredient of success in this contested space depends on understanding how government thinks.  A brutal but telling description of the difference between government and business is macro vs micro, big picture vs key success factors.  Business leaders need to focus; governments can come unstuck if they ignore a stakeholder group.  But that complexity can lead to slower policymaking, which business finds frustrating.  The speed with which Chancellor Rishi Sunak has moved is the exception that proves the rule: he’s acted at pace but has then faced inevitable complaints about gaps in support.

Planning ahead

In the middle of crises, governments nevertheless plan for the day after. Officials will be looking for new ideas – and want to hear from those with something to offer.  So now’s the time to think big and think ahead: those who can credibly present themselves as “part of the solution” post-coronavirus, as well as in the short term, will come out strongest.

This is where it will pay to be like government and “think macro.”  Which stakeholders do you impact, even indirectly?  Who can you help?  Who in government is interested in them?   How can you be part of the solution?

think big, think big, think big, think big, LinkedIn