Business Agility for the New Normal

Major disruptions caused by unexpected changes in business conditions can hit at any time and with little warning. Simply having a business continuity plan is not sufficient, particularly if it has not been completed, resourced, and routinely tested.  The value of Business Continuity Planning is not about having a specific plan to follow, it is about having created an effective organizational capability that can quickly understand and respond to an evolving set of problems.

As the COVID-19 pandemic duration extends and the variation in government guidance continues to grow, businesses need to be agile and continue to prepare for extreme disruption.  Leaders must be ready to address their immediate problems, prepare for multiple contingencies, and keep the business running with an eye toward a longer-term horizon.

For companies that may be struggling, here are six agility readiness activities to consider doing in response to the COVID-19 disruption and in preparation for resuming normal business operations.

  1. Establish Operational War Room– to provide visibility into each department’s plan and facilitate the collaboration needed to collect timely information and direct the resources to where they are needed most.
  2. Rapid Action Teams– establish a dedicated team of problem solvers that can be directed by the War Room to resolve emerging issues quickly.
  3. Operational Health Assessment– to determine what needs to be sustained, changed or stopped in order to continue to operate in the current environment for another 3, 6 and 9 months while waiting for restrictions to be lifted.
  4. Portfolio Assessment – to reconcile priorities with revenue and operating cost forecasts, stop or defer activities and projects, and reallocate capacity.
  5. Conduct Tiered Leader Huddles– In times like these, it is important to focus on how work must change. Leader process walks and escalation huddles to understand what is needed and to break barriers are critical now.
  6. Pressure Test Plans & Assumptions­– run simulations on planned business “Recover” and “Resume” activities against current situation scenarios to determine exposure and re-planning needed.

Business leaders can no longer afford to treat business continuity and disaster recovery as a special activity that should be done when resources are available.   Businesses must become truly agile, and ready to anticipate, adjust, or move in a new direction if they are going to compete and survive. In order to do this Agility Readiness needs to be a key component of the business values and culture.