I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience through our first days of this pandemic. Resilience is a topic that has interested me since I studied it briefly during my Masters degree where the focus was the resilience of infrastructure to climate change and extreme weather events. What’s happening at the moment is making me realise how broadly we need to consider resilience.
A traditional view of resilience might focus on being strong in the face of a challenge – being steadfast or hardy. However, in the wake of Covid-19 I suspect adaptability will be seen as being increasingly important in planning for resilience.
I’ve started collecting examples of how businesses are demonstrating their adaptability in response to our current circumstances. I’m not sure I can judge yet whether these approaches ensure they are resilient; that will play-out in the longer term.
Observations of how businesses are adapting
Change how they deliver their services
- Example: exercise classes which used to be held in a physical location are now going virtual
- BUT the market is flooded with free classes so will smaller providers be able to charge a fee and maintain their client base?
Adapting to new needs or markets
- Example: local deli starts selling and delivering food hampers with the stick they’d usually sell in store
- This new offer may easily continue after lockdown is relaxed.
- Example: manufacturers of differing sizes retooling from Mercedes designing new non-invasive respirators to some small gin distilleries switching their gin production to hand sanitiser (which they were largely donating)
- A positive move for building brand awareness and reinforcing company ethos
- New long-term business line possible
- It will be interesting to see what innovations arise in response to Covid-19. I’ll be watching with interest to see what comes out of the Innovate UK funding round focused on just this.
Scaling-up or scaling-down
Example: increase home deliveries for food. Perhaps the supermarkets haven’t been able to increase delivery slots as fast as we would like as consumers, but the scale of the increased demand is unprecedented.
- BUT when we are considering how businesses could adapt by scaling-down there are quickly significant implications for employees. This challenge is currently being eased by the Government’s Job Retention Scheme through which 80% wages will be covered, but this would not always be the case.
Having a diverse service offering to protect total business income through harder times
Happening to have the right product available at the right time
Probably not a good strategy for resilience!
Are there other strategies or examples that I’ve missed? Let me know.
Obviously not all of these approaches will work for all businesses and there are challenges with each. In the current circumstances, stretched supply chains and delivery services could quickly restrict how well a business’s plans play out in reality. Furthermore, it seems that the speed of adapting is proving to be important, which highlights the requirement for business owners and leaders are empowered to take swift decisions that often go against their existing strategy or business-as-usual.
P.S Apologies for the very non-technical business language here!
P.P.S Maybe these are already all noted in textbooks across the land but it’s interesting to observe in reality