The world has changed overnight…or has it? Maybe, any “changes” have really simply been peeling away appearances, forcing us to get back to the key fundamentals.  To illustrate, here are a few examples.

Focus on Your Business, Not the Distraction.

It’s alarmingly easy to wallow in news sites…and/or the “political spin on the news” sites.  Over the past decade or two we’ve increasingly become a nation of “drama addicts”, and drama is currently in ample supply. What’s changed is that our same addiction has become easier to feed.

Stop.  Just stop.  

Your business needs your attention right now.  It needs you to apply your expertise where you have it, and to not speculate where you don’t.

A friend of mine – a leading sales training consultant – posted on social media an extensive “risk analysis” of COVID-19 done by the editor of a partisan opinion site (a quick search yielded that the author is a finance/economics guy – imagine the number of cool graphs, then double it.).  Get it?  A sales trainer is passing along epidemiological analysis performed by a political activist with a business degree.  Don’t be either of those guys. 

Try this: After you’ve made your plan for what you need – and want – to accomplish for the day…figure out what additional information you need about the pandemic in order to be productive today.  You’ll find that’s minimal; maybe even zero, so take the 5-10 minutes required to gather just that information, and get to work.  You’ll feel better, and you will have taken the first step to weaning yourself off of that addiction you might have fallen into.

Your People Are Your Business.

People buy from people, people build your business and people form your culture.  Put your people first. It’s pretty obvious that your shareholders are adjusting their expectations appropriately, so it won’t hurt (and might help) your share price to start working hard on keeping your people happy, productive, and safe.

Last August, 183 member companies of the Business Roundtable signed a declaration to manage to all stakeholders, including employees. Now is the perfect time for them to start building in the shareholder return that comes from using your people resource more effectively.

What’s changed is that we have a window to safely work on the corporate values we already knew we should be practicing.

Managing People and Teams Remotely

What’s changed is that more teams are doing it.  What’s the same is that companies have been figuring out how to do it well for decades. There is an opportunity for transferring expertise.

Sales managers, for instance, have built a strong competence in remote team management that many other teams in an organization now need to master—in a hurry. I’ve assembled some of the best practices I’ve taught for years in the sales performance industry into a “managing remote teams” specialty (shameless self-promotion.  Contact me if you would like to learn more).

We’ve learned something about supply Chains

Many businesses have learned what’s wrong with moving supply chains without analyzing all of the risks.  What’s changed is that every company in the world is re-evaluating those risks…and change brings opportunity for companies who have taken all of the above principles seriously.

1US manufacturing companies of everything (not just medical products) need to react.  I advise one of many small US manufacturing companies seeing a wave of injection molding work repatriating. We are figuring out how to staff the opportunity while maintaining physical distancing in the workplace. 

2Companies who supply anything to business should re-evaluate their customer value in light of this sea change.  Delivery service, virtual support, distance work (coaching, consulting, training…any business service) all have a different value proposition than they did a few short weeks ago. What is your business doing to react?

Value Focus is More Important than Ever

The fundamental law of business – upon which all laws and commandments rest – is that the purpose of any business is to provide more customer value than it cost to produce.   When customer situations and your value started changing so rapidly, focusing everyone in your organization on value became more important than ever.  

What’s changed is that nothing’s changed…while everything has been changing.

Understand your value to your customer, then build your strategy and processes around that. Get everyone in any role who touches your customers together and get their perspectives on how your customer’s world is changing, and how you can become a better partner to them.

Gaining a more complete customer perspective was always a good idea, but times have made this an essential exercise.  Right now, you can no longer afford to tell any customer-facing role to “just play your part/ stay in your lane / don’t distract anyone with how we can change things”. Want more insight on this process or tools you could use? Read this book.

Self Care. Self Care. Self-Care 

This means a lot more than simply following the advice of the experts on hygiene and distancing.   Take care of yourself.  Exercise. Connect with people. Be of help. Exercise some more. Lead with kindness. Be empathetic. Don’t immerse yourself in stuff you can’t change.  Know when to lead and when to be led.  What’s changed is that nothing has changed…it’s all just become more important.

Summing up

Life has changed.  But the things that are important haven’t.  Many of the things you’ve put on the back burner have suddenly become higher priority, but your approach to your customers hasn’t.

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