The Coronavirus is the most significant issue to hit the world since the second world war with the potential to kill millions of people and crash the world economy which could have an impact on everybody’s lives for decades to come.
However, we will beat this disease, we will develop a vaccine and there will be life after Covid 19. It is clear that we are entering a period of economic uncertainty with demand for many goods and services reducing and possibly a world recession. Many companies will face the prospect of reduced demand, consequential less revenue with difficult decisions to make about supply chain and staffing costs. The obvious solution is to ‘close down’ the supply chain, enforce staff to take vacation, suspend people without pay or even lay them off. However, as I said above, we will beat Covid 19 and there will be a post Coronavirus. The challenge is for companies to come out of the other side stronger, fitter and ready to succeed after the virus has been beaten.
For many industries such as manufacturing to advise to work from home is for most staff not practical, ‘closing down’ supply chains has a knock on effect on multiple of companies and people, and laying off staff risks the loss of vital skills and capabilities that companies will require in the future growth and recovery.
Many companies are already working on continuous improvement and transformation projects which have often been ‘held up’ by the lack of time and resources. Well as demand for goods and services reduces, we now have the resources to focus upon these improvements and prepare ourselves for success in the future. The strength of any economy is dependent upon the value it creates, and the prime creators of value are manufacturing, agriculture and the exploitation of natural resources.
As in many times of adversity the time to invest in our future is now. We will have the available resources to drive transformation and technology projects more effectively and more quickly, of course without the demand and the potential onset of recession will we have the confidence and financial resources? The confidence issue is when true leaders need to step up to the plate and ‘earn their salt’. Now is the time for leadership not management.
Of course, that still leaves the financial issue, “what I haven’t got I can’t spend!” However, companies and the stock markets need to recognise that business success is the long game.
The UK government have pledged support for business to help them through the crisis. The focus of this should not be handouts to help them survive but it should be financial support that enables companies to retain their resources to work on the investments in continuous improvement and transformation programmes that will set them up for success and growth post Covid-19.
Business Support.Gov.UK already offer support for leadership development and this is an area that ‘investment’ can make a real difference for the future. Manufacturing is a foundation for any economy and rather than a crisis Coronavirus could be an opportunity to invest in the future.