For Coronavirus and Business, Rapid Diagnosis is Key
Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate the news worldwide. With each news cycle comes a swarm of new information and it can be difficult to discern fact from fiction. One thing does seem to be clear:
Rapid diagnosis is key.
Early detection gives us time to respond, to regroup, and to reverse course as the situation dictates. In the case of COVID-19, rapid diagnosis means we can both treat the afflicted and contain the spread of the disease. That’s also true for crisis situations in business. Quickly discerning the nature of the crisis tells us where to focus resources. So, what to do?
First, recognize the symptoms.
In February, the US National Institutes of Health issued a rapid advice guideline for COVID-19. That document details the symptoms of the disease. Importantly, it also distinguishes COVID-19 symptoms from that of other, similar viruses. With the guideline, medical professionals more quickly recognize the symptoms. They can provide treatment and behavioral protocols to mitigate the impact of the virus. Likewise, as a crisis emerges, senior leaders benefit when they share facts and data about the situation with their peers. Armed with data, the team knows what to look for – either to head off a crisis or mitigate its impact. The data also informs decisions about when to call on experts and what kind of response protocol is potentially most effective.
Second, control what you can.
We don’t control whether a crisis hits. Most of the time, we can only fully control our preparation. During the crisis, control what you can. For example: How many resources will you devote to crisis mitigation? What adjustments to operations do you need to minimize the impact or slow its progression? How will you engage your people to help? Or, how will you get your people out of harm’s way? What will you say or do when there’s nothing more you can do or the worst happens?
The less you know about a difficult, emergent situation, the more important it is to invest in tools and data to diagnose what’s really going on. From there, senior leaders can quickly tap into pre-established crisis management plans or disaster protocols. If the crisis was completely unanticipated, that diagnosis gives you time to make a new plan. Either way, you reduce the response time, which often limits the damage. In short: rapid diagnosis puts your business in the best possible position to manage a crisis successfully.
©2020 Tara J Rethore. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.