Why Businesses Must Prepare for Chaos and Confusion as the New Normal to Come

What Will the New Normal look Like for Businesses and is it All Chaos and Confusion?

As the shuttered economies worldwide prepare to emerge from the lockdowns, the New Normal or the State of Affairs is coming into sharper focus.

With uncertainty looming large as most countries are still reporting new cases and there is confusion about when they can flatten the Curve, businesses must come to embrace such uncertainties.

Moreover, with the repeated U Turns in lifting restrictions and relaxing the norms, they must also be ready for chaotic business conditions that need to be taken into account when formulating strategies.

Indeed, leading experts are already saying that lockdowns can only delay the spread of the infection and not avoid it altogether and adding that we need to learn to live with the Virus.

What this means is that in the New Normal to come, businesses need to be prepared for sudden changes in rules pertaining to when and under what conditions in which they can reopen.

For instance, can they have the entire workforce operating at full capacity? Or, what would happen if one or more of their employees contracts the virus leading to disruption in their operations after that?

Operate in Real Time and Be Flexible and Adaptable to Fast Changing Events

To answer these questions, it must be noted that no one including the governments have an answer and hence, while disconcerting at first glance, Chaos and Confusion are here to stay.

Therefore, businesses have to go by the day or in other words, go with the Flow, which means that they must temporarily shelve Long Term Planning and Longer Term Strategies.

Instead, they must formulate strategies keeping in mind their Temporal nature which means that instead of planning for the entire year ahead, they must ensure that they plan for a Month or at best, a Quarter.

While this might be unpalatable to most business planners, the reality is that they do not have a choice here.

So, our suggestion is that they use technology to the hilt meaning that by deploying Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, they can respond and react to fast changing events in Real Time.

Indeed, this is the crux of our argument and that is Real Time Strategies have to be embraced instead of planning well ahead.

Such Real Time Strategies would mean that they have to be Flexible, Adaptable, Adjustable, and Fungible to the events in the external environment which they cannot control much.

Strategising and Operating in Conditions over Which They Don’t Have Control

The above sentence captures our second argument and that is Businesses cannot really expect things to be under control all the time.

While this is again troubling for them, it is better to accept the realities and hence, prepare accordingly.

Of course, this does not mean that businesses simply give up on planning as well as managing their operations since the former is changing by the minute and the latter is dictated by external agents.

Rather, our suggestion is that businesses exercise full control over what can be done so and be like a Shape Shifting organism that can adapt and change to real time events.

This calls for flexible organisational structures where hierarchy counts for little and instead, Agile and Nimble Teams respond to the external environment in Real Time by ingesting information, formulating a response, and pushing it out as well as taking feedback and repeating the iterations.

In other words, autonomous and decentralised teams working in tandem with the higher-ups should be the norm.

Apart from this, businesses must rely on a Control Grid of Decision Makers who has the mandate to take instant decisions and implement them. Moreover, localised strategies must be the norm going forward.

Be Local, Decentralize as Much as Possible and Rely on Credible Information Sources

Another key point to note is that businesses must be tuned into their Environment and Be as Local as Possible.

For instance, if the government allows them to operate in Green Zones and not in the Red Zones, there is precious little that centralised planning can help as it is the Units and Branches in each region or area that have to take the relevant decisions.

Again this calls for decentralisation and in addition, there must be rapid response teams that operate in tandem.

Moreover, there must be a flow of information throughout vertical and horizontal hierarchies and there must be a Chain of Command at different levels.

No doubt leading corporates already have this in their Business Continuity Plans. Just that we are offering some perspectives on which such plans can operationalize.

In addition, credible and reliable information is the key and hence, businesses that are large must subscribe to information sources meeting these criteria.

There can be no worse fate than those who rely on Fake News for strategising and hence, our suggestion is that it is better to follow the updates from the government and other credible sources that can be relied upon to base their strategies.

Prepare for the Unknowns

Remember that this is a Fight against an Invisible Enemy and hence, businesses must prepare for Unknowns and Things beyond Comprehension.

Moreover, with Chaos and Confusion comes anarchy and hence, it is important for businesses to ensure operational safety of their employees.

It is always better to be Safe than Sorry. Moreover, businesses must prepare to forego profits and instead, focus on Staying in the Game.

To conclude, the New Normal would be unlike anything that has come before and hence, we hope the themes covered here would help businesses navigate the turbulence and volatility of the coming New Normal.

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