Paradigm shift after the Corona lockdown
Imagine the Corona lockdown being lifted. And then what? When developing a master plan for the Corona Crisis, we are no longer talking about a traditional planning horizon of one to three years. We must think well beyond the time it will take to build up herd immunity. Because of ever new corona mutations, we will have to learn to live with the virus. And because of the huge mountain of debt, despite the hoped-for catching-up effects in the economy, we are likely to have a ten-year permanent construction site ahead of us. Instead of micro-planning with short-term successes, it makes more sense to identify strategic priorities and milestones from the outset, as well as to systematically expand options and freedom of action. Anyone who has learned to improvise as a manager will have the edge in the competition of the future.
What comes after the pandemic plan?
From Augustine comes the sentence: “Do what is necessary first. Then the possible and suddenly you create the unimaginable.” What is necessary includes the “first aid” measures under the pandemic plan, which each company should have taken in the meantime:
- Immediate health measures and spatial protection concept for every workplace as well as customer touchpoints
- Home office with special attention to IT security
- Investment throttling and austerity programme
- Renegotiate payment terms with suppliers and lenders
- Short-time working and reducing overtime
- Application for state aid and increase of the credit line, deferral of tax
- Internal and external crisis communication with stakeholders
- Offer modification with search for digital and mobile expansion possibilities for the existing business model
- Building alternative, local value chains
- Leadership in the crisis through virtual presence, coaching and mediation.
The world of the economy as we have known it so far
Those who have managed to implement the necessary and possible objectives of crisis management should review the usefulness of everyday processes in order to combat the root causes of the crisis. Does the company pursue the right strategic priorities and use appropriate benchmarks?
We have become accustomed to thinking in short-term successes. Long live the principle of shareholder value! Thus, even before the Corona crisis, the primacy of the economy did not stop at savings in the health sector. The concentration on core competencies and the outsourcing of entire industrial sites to low-cost workbenches in the Far East has led to risky dependencies in global value chains and the unintentional promotion of new competitors by forcibly disclosing their own know-how. The defenses of such industrial monocultures trimmed to lean management are proving unstable in the crisis. All this has so far been justified by economic constraints: “If we do not, then the competition does.”
And when a crisis occurred, its own systemic relevance was brushed out by the sheer size of the plant: “Too big to fail.” To achieve such a greatness, growth has been declared a dogma that makes you happy on its own. But the more interchangeable the competing offers of an industry, the more global hypercompetition arises, which, in addition to price wars, does not shy away from unfair instruments of economic warfare. If you can’t grow on your own, you’ll look at takeover opportunities as an ultima ratio. In such an environment of the “survival of the fittest”, the consideration of the interests of third parties is only a necessary evil, which has nothing to do with the actual purpose of the company. Dialogue with critical stakeholders on an equal footing is rare.
“Shareholder Value” becomes “Public Value”
But what could a real out-of-the-box alternative look like, which deserves the designation of “paradigm shift”? Crises are then accepted as a new normal. It is not economics but the preservation and promotion of the future viability of a society that could then be the primacy to which all other measures must be aligned. In the short term, these are particularly health issues. However, the search for solutions to climate change and for poverty reduction or refugee aid is just as much a part of this as the other meaningful sustainability goals mentioned in the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
An alternative “public value” approach assumes that “value creation” arises only through “appreciation” and social acceptance. What values in our country meet these criteria in order to strengthen their implementation in view of the scarce resources and the additional responsibilities imposed by the Corona crisis?
A new economic paradigm does not have to be a rejection of globalization. Crucially, however, the exaggerations of the past decades are reversed, e.B. by maintaining a critical mass of local suppliers and building Up European value chains. Lean structures could be replaced by natural organizational structures and processes in which silent reserves and replacement solutions are kept available for all relevant operational functions.
Such a hedge is coined with a rejection of double-digit profit margins. In general, a combination of long-term planning and thinking in options and generations will replace short-term success orientation. It is not the best possible decision that is made, but the one that offers a company the greatest possible options for action in order to be able to react flexibly to uncertainties.
Alternative work and organizational models New Work 2.0
And what does this paradigm shift mean for the individual? The pandemic’s first aid measures have called into question the way we have worked so far. Some of these developments are likely to be sustained in the long term and have a lasting impact on the way we work. Examples:
- Instead of physical presence, home office and telework stations and project tasks that are limited in time and content will continue to gain in importance instead of a large core team. The organizational mission statement of such a development corresponds to a nucleus to which the necessary number of flexibly available elements are added as required. In order to achieve this high availability even in critical phases, however, a personnel pool must also be maintained at normal times.
- The trend towards multiple jobs with a wide range of challenges will continue to grow. But business models also become “colorful” within the company. And instead of routine work, employees will increasingly participate in sprints for new projects that may not be finished at all. This is a phenomenon that can already be observed in tech companies.
- The principle of self-responsibility could mean that employees themselves have to take care of new professional developments. At the same time, owners will share more in the company’s success or even venture a management buy-out.
- Project teams are becoming even more interdisciplinary, cross-industry, international and diversified in terms of age and gender. The demand for the leadership of complex, virtual teams is increasing.
- The more electronic tools support the work of specialists, the more important generalist key skills such as team, crisis and other communication skills become.
How a company responds to the crisis remains an individual question. For example, start-ups, medium-sized companies and large corporations have different prerequisites for securing the future. Crucially, we all accept the long-term changes in our lives and not try to continue to operate for fear of the new. There is no return to the old normal. Otherwise, the next wave of crisis could spell the final end to the competitiveness and survival of entire industries. And all our efforts so far to use the crisis as an opportunity for fundamental reform would have been in vain.