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Never let a good crisis go to waste

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These are unprecedented times. As the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte mentioned during his weekly press conference: “Corona is the biggest crisis since WWII”. Poverty levels in developing countries could be set back by up to 30 years[1]. Large stock markets show drop rates of 20 percent[2]. The United States of America is facing high numbers of unemployment; in mid-April 6.6 million Americans alone filed for unemployment[3]. No wonder many people experience increased anxiety, stress, and depression.

There are numerous examples from organisations how to cope with these difficult times. Basically, organisations can experience any of these scenarios: they either (1) continue business as usual with relatively minimal adaptations, (2) profit from changes in consumer behaviour as a result of toilet paper-hoarders, panic-buyers, and increased online sales, or (3) prepare for full-blown survival mode. The latter shows diverse decisions in all markets: some organisations try to generate new revenue streams, some go into hibernation to limit their losses, and others accept their loss and aim to support society whilst living off their reserves.

Regardless of the scenario, especially in times of crisis organisations have the power to improve the overall societal state and feeling or drive it further down the drain. Various examples for both exist. Despite facing the hardest hits, many organisations in the hospitality and leisure sector find new ways to earn money. Many divert to delivery services whilst others take a more creative approach; recently the first Dutch ice cream drive-through was founded in Tilburg. Organisations such as LinkedIn, HBO, and Sony (through PlayStation) are offering free content to help people get through the stay-at-home-period. Heineken even announced a remitto two-months’ worth of rent for all its 700 bar and restaurant tenants. Closed gyms are offering their classes online and hotel chains are offering free rooms for medical workers responding to the coronavirus crisis.

Unfortunately, ample negativity remains: many organisations are focussing on their losses, their ‘cannot-do’s’, or the lack of sufficient governmental support and some even demonstrate borderline criminal behaviour. Hunkemöller and De Bijenkorf, for example, stretched their 90-day payment periods to their suppliers by another 30 days. Adidas postponed its rent payments for their German HQ. Other large companies like EasyJet or Booking.com have requested financial support from their governments while being sufficiently resourceful to survive this crisis for a longer period of time. And that is even disregarding the potential dividend payments (171 million pound in case of EasyJet) or the top executive bonuses that in both cases are well within the millions.

It is obvious the Corona crisis puts a lot of pressure on organisations, albeit some will have to face greater challenges than others. Regardless, organisations can somewhat take matters into their own hands by utilizing this crisis as an enabler for positive change. Take another example from the fitness industry, while all gyms are closed, many now offer their equipment for lease, some even make it available for free to contribute to society. Imagine what can be achieved when everyone is working together towards an improved society for the post-Corona era.

So, tell us, what is your silver lining during this crisis? What are you and your organisation doing to survive and give this COVID-19 crisis a positive spin? Share your COVID-specific actions and initiatives by responding to this article. We are eager to hear your story!

You might be wondering how your organisation can or should respond to a crisis such as this one. In the next blog, we will further elaborate upon types of disorder and corresponding reactions.

[1] Sumner, A., Hoy, C., and Ortiz-Juarez, E, Estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty, 2020

[2] Bloomberg, April 2020

[3] U.S. Department of Labor, April 6th, 2020

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