By Eric Johnson
What happens once a crisis is over? Do you go back to normal? What are the expectations of management? Employees? Customers?
Harvard Business School magazine penned a crisis management article years ago that outlined a process for crisis managers in organizations to best deal with issues that affect the organization holistically and that are a part of the public domain. It was an operating plan that discussed scenario planning, triggering events, actions and responses, and a number of other elements specific to dealing with the issue at hand. Additionally, it established a control and command component to centralize decision-making and messaging with a defined org. structure similar to any business unit. This was all wrapped around a continuous improvement program designed to create a system of practice such that the organization would be prepared at a moments notice. “Well done”, I thought.
But what happens after a crisis is over?
The article didn’t really address this aspect. My assumption was that things would go back to normal, everyone would continue doing what they were involved in pre-crisis and life would go on. As I read on, I wondered what if life didn’t just “go on”. What if there were massive changes after the crises?
What is a “new normal” after a crisis has ended? And what are the ground rules?
As the country begins to open up, new social and economic practices will become the norm. Until a vaccine is widely adopted, economic activity will be lower than pre-crisis levels as the threat of infection looms over a large portion of the population. Restaurants and other social spaces with be a minimal capacity and social protective equipment such as masks and gloves will continue to be worn, especially in those portions of the country with denser populations. As a result, organizations will have to adapt both their processes and their people. Here are some guiding principles for reacting not only at this post-crisis point, but for others as well.
As crises wind down, the changes that occur in the business can have lasting effects on the people, products, and many other parts of the business than can be easily overlooked in the desire to get back to normal operations. The “new normal” is a different way of doing business than in the past and should be recognized as such. Keeping this in mind will allow the organization to maintain its focus on the customer and continue to provide a hopefully seamless transition that inspires confidence and a positive future outlook.
At Propulo, our focus has always been on safety culture and operational excellence. Please visit our website (Propulo Consulting) for more business insights and leadership resources.