Come out, swinging!

(idiomatic) To display spunk and strength of character, especially when rising above or when fighting back against trouble or adversity.

It’s time for business leaders to inspire the companies they lead. Some companies will come out of this time more durable than before, while others will not.

Companies solving problems created before Covid-19 shall be eternally trapped staring into the rearview mirror if they don’t act decisively now.

Like some terrible looking glass, it will trap them in the rabbit hole. Weak leaders are holding companies in the past while blaming an invisible menace for their demise. Don’t let your story end like that.

I, like many of my colleagues, are working to understand the true scope of this disaster. Especially in my case. I am looking for a new opportunity while writing the next chapter in my story.

Sure, there is a world of people who are working because they have too. That is why I posted #Medlove asking everyone to send personal messages to their care provider — giving thanks and praise for working this crisis. Delivery, first responders, warehouse workers, and most importantly teachers, are all caught up in the fight, and they deserve recognition too.

Others, like myself, are watching the digital frontier. The most porous of all global borders. Cybersecurity is ramping up to defend against people who, like the virus, are godless exploiters of the world: hackers, crackers, and state actors who prey on the weak and tired. In times of peace, we don’t talk in such stark terms. We push features and functions against unnamed enemies. This is a real fight, a digital pandemic all on its own.

“…godless exploiters of the world: hackers, crackers, and state actors who prey on the weak and tired.”

So we all know the problem, but what’s actionable? Rethink what the future holds and how this attack is reshaping our landscape. Be aggressive now. The challenges of the past are not the opportunities of the future. Look forward and establish what comes next, especially if you find your self among Alligators now.

“Rethink, be aggressive, and look forward.”

I find companies today woefully complacent. I don’t see critical strike teams created to address the problem. If they have a digital workforce, as we do in CyberSecurity, it’s mostly business as usual, albeit with more volume than ever. Manufacturing and the underlying infrastructure of the internet are at risk due to supply chain disfunction. The slowdown in making fundamental server components scarce. Companies, especially in the cloud, are on set replacement programs for hardware maintenance or expanded services. Many are looking to cut and hunker down when they should be evaluating a new post-pandemic model. Strike teams should be in place to attack the future, not only the problem at hand.

Ask yourself: “Do I have a post-pandemic business plan?

While Covid-19 won’t be a wholesale change to working from home, it will be a significant watershed moment for the companies who can look forward and drive new business opportunities against this new reality. Think about the tipping point Covid-19 just created.

“An entire generation was just vaulted into the digital age through remote schooling and work”

How can we plan for this new reality? Former competitors will fail, new markets will form, new work paradigms will emerge, and closed minds will open. Whatever you assume about your business is likely wrong or has significantly been altered. The past requires a fresh look at the future.

Action items for the woke!

  1. Create a war room
  2. Establish two tactical strike teams
  3. Team 1 should already be in place and tackling the problems at hand
  4. Team 2 is addressing the future landscape. Create strategic scenarios and simulations for what is changing in realtime
  5. Tactical assessment of market fit and finish. Will it be same after the global economy restart and in the near term ramp-up
  6. Evaluate new markets that might be tangential or parallel to your existing model. Especially if companies are leaving the space due to the crisis
  7. Frame critical steps to reshape your company. This event has changed companies made of people. Don’t forget people in the transition. Focus on external changes but address internal realities. Make plans to harness the new models. We can’t rely on business as usual when the engine starts. It will need a tune-up and possibly new mechanics to run them.
  8. Tune-up your data streams and use technology for more than spreadsheets and email. If you feel blind to the operations of your company today, it’s a sign. Get data flowing!
  9. Establish a clear restart plan. Set the bar for everyone to follow. Make sure you communicate your findings and plans to critical layers of management. They will need to understand and trust in your solution. CyberSecurity might enter a new market. Manufacturing might have to retool to keep people safe at work. It might merely be communicating what plans will be put in place to manage another Pandemic in the future.

The stark reality is this. Some companies will simply implode, leaving a massive vacuum in the market. This is a new opportunity for the companies left standing. Startups will fail due to a lack of funding, creating an opportunity for new partnerships or possible talent acquisitions. Governments will change behaviors in light of this crisis and demand new services to protect themselves. I could go on and on with what the problem and opportunities are, but that’s not the point.

You know your reality. Take a personal inventory. Are you just waiting for this to pass, and do you have a post-Covid-19 plan? Better than that, do you have strike teams informing you with data. Can you remain agile in a world where Covid-19 might be here to stay?

Get to work. Leadership has no excuse in any business, as no one is tied to work stations. Leaders lead, and this is a time for you to shine. Management at every level has a role to play in this; executives have to unlock that resource. Leadership from the top down should be to empower those below you to activate in realtime. Feeding up insights and signals, planning on a restart, or organizing a reconfiguration of the business. Open lines of communication help people get on board whatever boat you are sailing. Be that Captain of your ship. Who knows, you might get more trusted first officers than before.

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