…like today with COVID-19/Coronavirus affecting all aspects of our daily lives across the world.

When there is a huge range of possible impacts in the short, medium or long term, how can leaders prepare and respond?

Scenario Planning

Today, it is impossible to predict the impact of COVID-19/Coronavirus on our societies, our people, our future cash flows. Leaders cannot abdicate responsibility and say that they cannot decide because there are too many unknowns.

In the current context, business leaders need to lead with a number of specific actions:

  1. Set company policy and make sure all employees know this policy. This policy should cover at minimum what is covered in my recent post COVID-19/Coronavirus – How business leaders should respond?
  2. Communicate daily what you are seeing, what you are expecting, who is involved, what it means…
  3. Scenario Planning
    1. Best Case – What is the best case we might possibly expect and how will we respond if the situation pans out in this way?
    2. Worst Case – What is the truly worst case we might face? What actions can we take today that can prepare us for dealing with this? What cash reserves will we need? What will we do with suppliers, customers, banks, employees in this worst case? Are there any actions that can reduce the impact? Can we survive this worst case? (“You can only learn from the crisis that you survive” Jim Collins)
    3. Other Cases between best and worst – What will happen under these scenarios? How can we prepare plans and our people to perform under these conditions?

It may be helpful to have separate people/teams working on response plans for each of the scenarios.

IESE Business School is working on 4 possible Scenarios and teams are putting in place the technology, the training, the support systems in order to allow for any of these 4 scenarios to be supported. As of yesterday, IESE has moved to scenario 3… All classes delivered online for at least the next 2 weeks. All travel stopped. All marketing activities with on campus visits stopped.

IESE is maintaining the capacity to go back to on-campus teaching, and is maintaining regular communications to employees, to faculty and to students via email, a blog and internal messaging tools.