Deloitte studies the leading practices of multinational companies in business continuity planning, especially related to major emergency management.
Digital article by Deloitte Insights — The heart of resilient leadership
Resilient leaders zero in on the most pressing matters, establishing priority areas that can quickly cascade.
Based on the Deloitte’s analysis of the leading practices of multinational companies in business continuity planning, especially related to major emergency management of infectious atypical pneumonia, H1N1 influenza, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and other major infectious diseases,10 we have identified a number of key actions resilient leaders can take that can be grouped into the following categories:
- Launch and sustain a crisis command center
- Support talent and strategy
- Maintain business continuity and financing
- Shore up the supply chain
- Stay engaged with customers
- Strengthen digital capabilities
- Engage with your business ecosystem
Apple provides an integrated case study. Its decision to close retail stores in affected areas11 demonstrates a number of these principles:
- Empathizing with the needs and concerns of its employees, including continuing to pay hourly workers as though operations followed a normal schedule and amending its leave policy for COVID-related health issues.
- Reducing further shocks to an already depleted supply chain.
- Staying connected to—and overtly demonstrating concern for—its customers and local communities.
- Leveraging its at-scale digital presence by keeping its online store open and running.
- Continuing to engage its business ecosystem via new channels, shifting the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June to a digital-only gathering.
Finally, Apple’s bold decision-making demonstrates the courage inherent in Aim for speed over elegance:
Speed over elegance
Perfect is the enemy of good, especially during crises when prompt action is required. Most companies do not have the infrastructure to deliver perfect information or data, in real time, on operations that could be affected during an epidemic. There will be many “known unknowns” in the days and weeks ahead. Are you ready to accept that you’ll need to act with imperfect information? Collect as much proxy data as you can to inform your decisions so you’re not flying blind. When the crisis is over, you will have the opportunity to conduct a thorough review to see how to improve information quality in future crises—but during this one, you will likely have to set aside that kind of analysis.
As leaders confront situations that were never anticipated, this is also a time to encourage more initiative and decision rights at all levels of the organization, trusting that the teams and individuals who are deeply embedded in a specific context may be in the best position to come up with creative approaches to addressing unanticipated needs. Make the objective clear, but allow more flexible local autonomy. To achieve the overall objective of reducing disease transmission risk in its stores, for instance, one coffee shop chain gave store leadership the flexibility to reconfigure tables to maintain social distancing.13 The key, of course, is to ensure that all workers are clear on the objectives that matter and the guardrails that cannot be crossed. This approach may have value beyond the current crisis as organizations learn to conduct business in more and more uncertain times.