Leading Out of Adversity (Boston Consultancy Group)

Posted by Rich Lesser, Martin Reeves

What leadership strategies should businesses adopt to navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, and towards recovery? This article from BCG's think tank is useful for any place stakeholder to learn more about how their current leadership priorities and approaches can be adapted.

Date added 25 May 2020
Last updated 25 May 2020

Even before the current pandemic, businesses were facing an uncertain and fast-moving environment, meaning that getting to grips with new technologies and consumer trends quickly was needed in order to remain competitive. However, as the article explains, the current crisis has amplified these necessities.

The Institute of Place Management (IPM), lead partner of the High Streets Task Force, has recently updated its ‘Top 25 Priorities’ for high street and town centre vitality and viability to include innovation - the importance of place stakeholders being creative, experimental, and adaptable to new ways of operating. Along with the article summarised below, this further emphasises the importance of place stakeholders remaining flexible and creative in order to quickly and effectively adjust to the many changes and challenges brought about by COVID-19.

As the IPM’s Post-COVID19 Framework for Recovery advises, whilst many businesses and town centres are currently in the midst of the crisis stage of the pandemic, it is important that place stakeholders, including businesses, also begin to plan for recovery now. As Lesser and Reeves similarly explain in the article, “while survival may be top of mind today, thriving is the long game”. They present ‘five imperatives’ for leading businesses out of adversity, which correspond to aspects of the crisis and pre-recovery stages of the IPM’s framework, including the importance of sharing and analysing data, collaboration between multiple stakeholders, and creative innovation. These five imperatives can be summarised as follows:

  1. Sustainably flatten the curve of the disease - businesses should focus on helping to slow the pandemic through social distancing policies and collaboration with other organisations to find a way through the crisis via forming innovative strategies.
  2. Win (back) the new customer - the pandemic has led to changes in consumer behaviour. Companies need to analyse data on current and future trends to determine differences between short-term and long-term changes, and retain consumer trust.
  3. Accelerate digital transformation - the crisis has accelerated the need for businesses to adapt their digital platforms and systems to respond to the growing needs of online shopping, working, and collaboration.
  4. Create advantage through resilience – COVID-19 has revealed how many existing business systems are fragile and brittle under the stress caused by such global disasters. Businesses should rebuild their systems with resilience at the forefront.
  5. Mobilize purpose in the common interest - to get through the current crisis, businesses need to collaborate and coordinate their activities with other stakeholders, including other businesses and governments. Collective mobilization and action are vital.