On the 11th of March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a global pandemic with a substantial risk of further spread. Just two months later, over 5 million infections have been recorded worldwide along with more than 325,000 deaths.
"This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector… so every sector and individual must be involved in the fight." Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO
Initial crisis response to Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis targeting our government system, our health service, and our economy, on a scale not seen in over eighty years since the end of the Second World War.
Crisis plans and pre-established resilience are key elements of the initial response and progress into a cautious recovery phase. The Irish Government are advising a phased reopening of society and the economy with suggested actions to make it safe for business and customers, offer financial support, and provide assistance to change current models that will enable businesses to do things differently as society adapts to living with Covid-19.
Leaders are advising that we look at countries and economies that are ahead of us in the crisis curve and to leverage this experience to create cyclical response capabilities that can address the likely return spike of the virus.
Moving into a recovery phase while managing disruptions across society
Leadership is a key element of the response to this unprecedented crisis; particularly the ability to create teams and workgroups that are agile and flexible while considering what has been effective by identifying shortfalls and integrating new lessons learned. Teams can be focused on short-term urgent issues such as health and safety, business continuity and sustainability.
Getting the right balance is critical to surviving a crisis while remembering that ‘perfect is the enemy of the good’. Speed of action is a key factor and it has been an element of this crisis that our response has been accelerated to ‘Covid-19’ timelines, or at least that has been the intention. With multiple agencies and organisations engaged in a competition to obtain supplies, it is necessary to follow crisis plans and adapt learnings to create new ones.
Leadership from within your organisation
Looking at internal expertise and skills was the theme of our latest insight, and again this decision will provide a viable strategy in this crisis. Leveraging of expertise and skills can be broadened across the whole organisation; creating a collaboration of resources from the wider network of associates, suppliers, and customers.
This crisis requires novel agile constructs and team membership can be short-term and focused on specific key tasks. Networks can work effectively in temporary crisis teams and given the broad nature of the pandemic the need to respond on all fronts is now obvious.
Leadership continues to be a key element of the response and recovery process. Leaders will need to be flexible, manage the uncertainty of resources while offering clear consistent communication that is people-centric.
New approaches to management and creative strategies that can be flexible in application will support a concern for the welfare of our most valuable resources. In the short term, this approach will assist the recovery phase and prepare for a return to a ‘non-crisis’ existence with new skills and networks that will prove vital in the creation of resilient response strategies.