Early Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Examining the Fundamentals

By: Angela Polania

The global shutdown from COVID-19 rapidly altered our day-to-day lives; some more so than others.  While it may be too early to realize the full impact of this sudden change, the forced down time can allow us an opportunity for retrospective examination.

Yes, there are already some lessons learned from this experience if you wish to seek for them.  The following are my early lessons learned, reflecting on the current life changing event!

  1. Verify, Clarify and Stay Informed: In the age of data and accessibility to information, misinformation and trust of the information is rampant. Thus try to validate facts and share only useful and factual content. Clarify and interpret the data into useful information that allows you to make better daily decisions.  Keep a balance of information to know what’s going on around you, your community, your industry and around the globe.
  1. Focus on Solutions – Not Problems: Now is not the time for greedy, selfless promotion of you or your product. We are adjusting to a new norm, projecting the impact and re-calibrating our lives accordingly.  Share helpful information to those that are making fundamental and structural changes to their lives and businesses.  Don’t “fan the fire” and spread more fear and panic.  Stay calm and informed.  Let’s focus on the humanitarian efforts and good that has arisen during these unprecedented times.
  1. Look for New Opportunities: If you’ve been thinking about a new direction, innovation or re-investing in your existing assets – now’s the time to pursue that opportunity. In times of uncertainty, doing something is better than doing nothing.  New norms are forming; and in the end, some will apply the lessons learned and grow from it.  Examine what you are doing differently to better position you and your business for when the pandemic is over.  Monitor emerging trends that you can align with and be proactive to anticipate new opportunities.
  1. Seek Non-Traditional Financing: Even if you feel secure in your financial position – research to see if you qualify for government funding. The federal government approved a historic $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid relief package and additional funding is in play as well.  Now is the time to have a cushion and wisely invest in you and your business.
  1. Build Resiliency: The COVID-19 toilet paper phenomenon is a stark reminder to the importance of having reserves of your staple items. In pursuit of being efficient, “just in time inventory” has proven to be a failed strategy for times of crisis.  Maintaining a healthy reserve balance of the fundamentals (e.g. daily supplies, cash, inventory on hand, etc.) is a secure way to ensure the ability to absorb shocks of sudden and unpredictable change.
  1. Expect Disruption: In a matter of 1 month, COVID-19 has wiped out a decade of job growth in the U.S; resulting in 22 million unemployed claims.  Take the time to re-assess your workforce skill set and align them to new technological trends.  Early winners of COVID-19 are already being identified in telecommunications, robotic workforce automation and artificial intelligence.  Now is the time to examine the next wave of large and disruptive change in the work force and reposition accordingly.
  1. Practice Agility: As a person that works in technology, I have seen how within a month, organizations (public and private) were forced to accommodate an emergency remote workforce and ‘brute force’ digital transformation of some sort. Some were better positioned for this rapid transition; while others were not.  As organizations further refine their remote capabilities and explore automating manual processes, new operating trends and business models will emerge.  Take this time to examine your work capabilities and how you and your organization can leverage these new trends.  Existing and further winning technologies will further emerge, and this will probably accelerate workforce automation (e.g. Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning use cases with automation engines etc.) and use of AI as resilience measure and reliance on human dependencies.

While navigating through this rapidly changing and evolving world, our ability to adapt and overcome new challenges will determine one’s future success.  In summary, collectively, we can use this time to examine the fundamentals, reflect on what’s changed and find new opportunities ways to grow and learn from this time of crisis.  Wishing everyone well!