Crisis Management: Response, Recovery, Reimagination
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Response, Recovery, Reimagination

This is part 2, crisis recovery, of a 3-part article series designed for mid-sized to large organizations. The 3-part series will, firstly, help you respond to the initial impact on your business, secondly, endure the next 3 to 12 months, and thirdly, achieve growth in the long term. We are sharing how we are serving our clients with a 3- phase business continuity plan. Phase 1: Response, phase 2: Recovery, phase 3: Reimagination. If you have not read part 1- Response, click here.

Just like with Part 1: Response, we are sharing how we are serving our clients during the Crisis Recovery phase. Below is the framework we are using to help our clients move from reactive responding to proactive prediction. If you have the capacity and resources internally, this framework will provide you with the steps to crisis recovery.

Part 2: Recovery

The Covid-19 infection curve is flattening, the number of new cases is slowing down and we are seeing some communities reopen. However, it is not going away any time soon. For that reason, we believe the fast-follower to the outbreak is the economic downturn. By some estimates, the economic impact will outpace the Great Depression. We believe uncertainty will continue for months to come.

As leaders, we must reimagine how we will operate knowing we will not have a vaccine for at least 6 to 9 months. Now, is the time to turn your attention to phase 2 of the business continuity plan process. This will involve allocating dedicated resources and removing them from the day-to-day pressures of managing the crisis.

Crisis Recovery Phase
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Crisis Recovery

In phase 1, Response, we focused on immediate workforce protection by creating a Response Team. This team was responsible for establishing policies and procedures to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. As a result, the organization created guidelines to address social distancing, potentially sick employees, and customer interaction.

It is not just the severe economic impacts that we must navigate, it is the customer behaviors and business model impacts. This requires looking ahead and preparing accordingly. For this process, we will take a page out of the Military’s handbook. The Military manages crises on a daily basis and one tactic they use is having a dedicated team that’s creating scenarios and gathering intelligence.

There are three steps to take in the Crisis Recovery phase:

  1. Launch a Future-Focused Team to get ahead of the next stage of the this crisis
  2. Task the team with intelligence gathering and scenario planning
  3. Taking action and monitoring indicators that require a shift in the plan

The Future-Focused Team’s responsibility is to be at the 50,000-foot level and looking at all the moving parts of the organization. They are looking across the organization and externally across the industry. The Response Team is managing the day-to-day operations of employee protection. The Future-Focused Team is thinking about where the organization will be in the months and year ahead.

Crisis Recovery Phase:  Future Focused Team
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Future-Focused Team’s Objectives:

  1. Provide scenarios and options to the C-Suite
  2. Recommend strategic actions to be taken over the next 3 – 12 months
  3. Develop a plan to carry out the actions

Framework For Accelerating Action

We have a mini-model of the process for accelerating action.

  1. Establish the current state through internal and external intelligence gathering
  2. Develop a variety of scenarios using the 6 Elements of Uncertainty as factors to consider
  3. Select the direction based on the scenarios developed
  4. Determine the strategic roadmap of actions that support the direction chosen
  5. Allocate the proper resources, this may mean abandoning other projects
  6. Know the indicators that will trigger shifts in the strategy
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Current State

Us the Response Phase to inform the recovery phase. The Future-Focused Team (FFT) should begin with gathering lessons learned from the Response Team. This is the time to conduct a post-mortem project review. The FFT should research:

  • What is working with our new process, policies, or protocols
  • What is not working
  • New normals expected going forward to ensure the virus will not spread in the facilities
  • Equipment, processes, or protocols that were not considered or not available during the initial response that may be helpful now
  • Review the feedback process to hear directly from line employees

Beyond the lessons learned from the Response Team, the Future Focused Team must gain clarity of the organization’s current position. We are recommending going back to January to establish the current state. This is not a full-scale strategy exercise, this is understanding where the organization is in relation to January 2020. Gather intelligence on financial, operations, supply chain, and projects or initiatives in play. Some of this work may have been completed in phase 1, Response using the Start, Stay, Stop exercise.

Navigating the Uncertainties

The future is difficult to predict, which can make planning for it a challenge. However, exploring different scenarios using a framework is the best way to prepare for uncertainty. In addition, this methodology for planning is a time-tested way companies stress-test a variety of “if this, then that” scenarios.

Companies, for example, can explore the risk of supply chain disruption. Institutions may stress-test alternative forms of learning. Banks may stress-test new entrants or widespread financial issues. There are 6 elements of uncertainty for the Future-Focused Team to consider and develop scenarios to address.

Elements of Uncertainty:

  1. Economic
  2. Supply Chain
  3. Financial
  4. Workforce & Workplace
  5. Government & Regulation
  6. Global Shifts
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Scenario Planning Creates Resilience

Scenario Planning

Scenario-based planning has become increasingly important to most, if not, all organizations over recent years, and it’s especially critical now. The biggest driver of scenario planning is the high level of volatility, as external economic and political forces are impacting industries across the globe. Nevertheless, scenario-based planning is currently not common practice for organizations in their planning. Most organizations set future targets and goals based on historical performance instead of future-focused scenarios. The organizations that conduct scenario planning develop resilience to uncertainty.

During scenario planning, focus on the “what we believe” of each option first. The group will circle back to the “action we take”.

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Stratavize’s Scenario Planning

Direction Selection

Once scenario planning is completed, the FFT and the leadership must determine a big goal. The team must name what is possible for the next 3 to 12 months. This is not the end-all-be-all vision of the organization, it is what the organization would like to accomplish at the end of the 12 months. It’s the aim of the management team and employees of the organization. Consider direction selection is choosing a north star.

The direction will be in response to the business model’s disruption and the impact in demand or industry impact. Here samples of the questions we are asking our clients during this phase:

  • New products/services that were being developed prior to the crisis relevant in 3 to 12 months?
  • Should those new products/services be modified to change in demand?
  • What disruptions have occurred to the existing business model?
  • Will those disruptions continue to occur in 3 to 12 months?
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Strategic Positioning

Stratavize defines strategy as an organization’s positioning and chosen route to reach their best- envisioned future, it’s a framework for making decisions. As a result, being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that support your positioning and will move you towards that best-envisioned future and your north star.

The strategic positioning is a flexible roadmap in response to the scenarios. Develop several strategic moves that can play out in a variety of scenarios. Go back to the scenarios, the group would have already defined ‘what we believe’ part of the scenarios, now define what action will be taken.

Consider all the current projects or initiatives in play and how they may fit into the action to be taken. Some may be relevant and others may not be. The objective of scenario planning and strategic positioning to create several strategic moves. These should include worst-case scenarios and best-case scenarios, outside plays and inside plays. This exercise must be challenging and uncomfortable. If it’s easy and comfortable, the team is not pushing themselves hard enough.

Resource Allocation

Resource allocation is the step that is often skipped. However, in the crisis recovery phase, you are likely still working on some crisis initiatives. Therefore, you have to consider who is working on what and what initiatives can be paused or stopped. See phase 1, Response and the Start, Stay, Stop exercise. The team should not end the cycle of work (current state, scenario planning, direction selection, strategic positioning) without having determined the resources needed to execute the plan.

Indicators & Triggers

There is a high level of uncertainty in the market, for that reason, the key to this work being agile and flexible. The world is going to evolve fast, so, plans must evolve fast in response. Therefore, the team will want to create indicators that things are changing. Think through what factors may emerge that would indicate the plan may no longer be relevant.

Tips to be successful with the process:

This article has provided you the framework for recovering from the crisis and planning ahead for months to come. We want to provide you a few tips to ensure success.

  1. Collaborate – this work should not be driven by one or two people. The Future-Focused Team should be working in collaboration with others and the leadership team should be collaborating too.
  2. Manage the Process & Outcomes – ensure there is a clearly laid plan for managing the work through completion. If your organization does not staff a project manager, we can help. Otherwise, ensure you designate a project manager to oversee this work.
  3. Communicate – stand up a communication plan. The plan should cover both leadership communicating to the entire team, external/partner communications, and so on. A robust communication plan will help keep everyone moving in the same direction.
  4. Customer & Employee Feedback – include a way to obtain regular feedback from employees and customer’s regarding changes.

On the Horizon

It’s clear we will not be in the crisis or recovery phase forever. As leaders, we have to be forwarded thinking and preparing our organizations for 2021. We have to look at what’s on the horizon. That’s why we’ve recreated, Phase 3: Reimagination. In this article outlines how to forecast with confidence even in uncertainty.

If you need us, we are here.

Here are some of the ways we are helping clients entering phase 2 – crisis recovery:

  • initiating the Accelerating Rapid Action cycle
  • scenario planning and direction selection
  • managing the work through completion
  • facilitating the discussion virtually

If your organization needs help implementing phase 1, or phase 2, or further assistance, contact us today for a quote. You can email or call 765-914-2847.

To learn more about Stratavize visit our website.

About the Author – Lauralee Hites

I have more than a decade of experience in managing projects that reduce risk to organizations. Today, I operate a boutique consulting firm that specializes in Strategy and Management Consulting. You can always drop me a line at or call me at 765-914-2847.

Finally, follow Stratavize on these social platforms FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn @Lauralee Hites and Stratavize’s LinkedIn business page.   Interested in learning more about how Stratavize serves our clients? Check out what our clients have to say here.

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