Moving To A New, Post-Virus Normal

Corporate resilience, innovation, a new level of preparedness and an insatiable focus on sustainability will be key for success in the post-COVID era.

I’ve heard Wall Street refer to the current health and financial crises as “caused by G-D”. While I understand what they are trying to say, this is not G-D-caused; it is caused by a species-jumping virus. A month ago, our immune systems were capable of warding off previously known pathogens; today, a new pathogen has emerged creating havoc of pandemic proportion. A month ago, the economy was incredibly robust, mirroring almost universally strong corporate financial fundamentals. Just a month later we are in recessionary times.

Not a man-made recession, which is their point, but caused exogenously. The corporate fundamentals that existed still exist. Strong companies then are strong now, but are revenue-challenged due to the near-total economic shutdown. These companies will return to profitability once the economy is allowed to resume and return to a new normalcy. The economy will come back. While it may not be like the Concorde accelerating thru the sound barrier, the economy will resume its robustness over time.

You also hear people say: ”when we return to normal…”

But we will never return to the old normal. We are moving forward toward a new normal. What is that? Who really knows with any certainty at this moment. Every industry will find itself in a post-COVID normal. Change is happening, it is here! Every industry will experience change… that is different from saying that every industry will change. Starbucks will still serve coffee; but how will they serve it in ‘the new normal’? You’ll go out for dinner again; but what will the environment in the restaurant look like? You will attend school or university, but how will “attend” be defined?

Industries will need to embrace change as the new, crisis-inspired, priority-altered normal presents itself. Corporate resilience, innovation, a new level of preparedness and an insatiable focus on sustainability will be key for success in the post-COVID era. Collaboration, sensitization, a softer approach and redundancy will be critical components of business DNA.

Every industry will deliver on their experience differently. Airline. Hospitality. Automotive. Energy. Pharmaceutical. Wellness. Medical preparedness. Education. Consumer Product Goods. Advertising. Food Supply. Investment. Wall Street. Events. Crisis Management. Legal. Politics. Personal preparedness, etc…what does the post-crisis strategy look like for each industry? Now is the time to challenge ourselves to begin figuring this out. Coming out of this downturn, if companies and leaders tend to look like they did going into this exogenously-induced crisis, they might find themselves less successful long term. How are we changing as a result of this crisis? How should we change? What must we learn and apply as leaders of our companies?

The same “Habits of Success”, the same “ Secrets to Success” might not be as relevant now. Innovation, agility and ability to pivot, refreshing brands and markets, corporate and personal preparedness…these are very relevant.

The stuff that was referred to BC…(before COVID) as “the soft, fluffy stuff” is going to be really important now. This is the “stuff of survival”. If you get culture, people, customers right, if listening becomes a virtue and if you are prepared for whatever might present itself, everything will fall into place. Our foundations will be stronger and our futures more luminous.

We are unquestionably moving toward a new normal. What was true might no longer be the sole truth. What was the focus, might no longer be the right focus; may no longer be our True North. What was important might not be the only important metric in a post-COVID business environment.

As a cell biologist by training, I know the simplest scientific principle is: “like seeks like”. Assuming that that inarguably simple principle still remains, consumers and clients will seek to buy from and to work with businesses and corporations which have been redefined by the crisis-provoked change in priorities and that emerge as newly inspired, more sensitive companies that embrace the good times and that are prepared for the not-so-good times. Saying we are not prepared will not be acceptable in the future.