The COVID-19 Crisis: How to Save Your Business and Protect Your Family

 By   Shlomo Maital  

   Israel’s national airline, El Al, just announced it is laying off 800 workers. That is a huge number. Many believe that El Al was in trouble well before the COVID-19 crisis and is just using it as an excuse to shed excess workers.

   True or not – we are about to see a wave of layoffs, all over the world, in airlines, hotels, cruise ships and many other industries suffering from a parts shortage.

   An article published on Feb. 27 in Harvard Business Review is timely. “Lead your business through the coronavirus crisis”, by Martin Reeves, Nikolaus Lang and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, of BCG Boston Consulting Group.

     Here are 12 things the authors suggest that you do.

  1. Update intelligence. That is track the latest information. This is harder than it seems, because there is an enormous amount of hysteria, panic and false data. 2. Beware of hype.   See #1 – “as you absorb the latest news, think critically about the source of the information before acting on it.”   3. Share information. “We have found that creating and widely sharing a regularly updated summary of facts and implications is invaluable”. 4. Use experts and forecasts carefully. “Each epidemic is unpredictable and unique, and we are still learning about the critical features of the current one.” 5. Reframe your understanding of what’s happening constnatly. “A Chinese general once said: Issue orders in the morning, change them in the evening”. 6. Beware of bureaucracy. Everybody will weigh in, about what to do — avoid the inertia and delay that may result. 7. Make sure your planned response is balanced, across: Communications, employee needs, travel, remote work, supply-chain, business tracking, and corporate responsibility.   8. Use resilience principles. Resilience requires ‘redundancy’ (2nd, 3rd sourcing of supplies), diversity (multiple approaches), modularity (assemble your business system in different ways), Evolvability (adapt and change, fast!), prudence (avoid hysteria), and embeddedness (live your values, don’t survive at others’ expense). 9. Prepare now for the next crisis (expect more troubles after COVID-19). 10. Intellectual preparation is not enough. (Set up a small war room, practice various scenarios). 11. Reflect on what you’ve learned. 12. Prepare for a changed world. We won’t be the same world after all this blows over.

    It sounds trite, but – crises are opportunities. At the end of February 2003, when the SARS crisis broke out and Chinese businesses went into lockdown, Alibaba, under Jack Ma, organized the construction of its new on-line platform, with people working from home and communicating by phone and modem.

     Alibaba’s market capitalization today is $547 billion.