The best way to get through this crisis is not looking so much at how you are going to survive it, but how you are going to help your customers survive it. Also, the only way through this crisis is through innovation.
Last week, I held a CEO roundtable in Tokyo for business leaders share and exchange experiences, wisdom, and advice. If you lead a business, below are nine things you ought to be doing now if you want to thrive despite the crisis rather than just survive it.
Even though Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe now has the power to enact a state of emergency, he has hesitated doing so citing lack of evidence so far for meeting the conditions. Yet lack of evidence and evidence of lack are not the same thing, and you need not make the same mistake in leading your business.
Don’t underestimate the importance of peer support, especially now. My most successful clients ensure they maintain open communication with other CEOs for advice, to learn what others are doing that works and what doesn’t, and for emotional support. Communicating only with people in your head office and your staff just isn’t enough. Interaction with your peers will help keep you grounded and focused, and your stability will help your staff with the same.
The COVID-19 panic that has enveloped Japan and other countries in the world is primarily driven by sensationalism in media reporting giving people around the world a skewed perception of a personal health risk, which in Japan and the U.S. alike, is in reality exceedingly remote. Yet the real health risk is largely illusory.
My wife told me of a news report of a passenger on a Tokyo commuter train who hit the emergency stop button. When railway staff came to investigate, the passenger told them there was a guy in the carriage without a surgical mask who was coughing.
There are side-effects to Coronavirus. I suspect some of them will be permanent, and this is not a bad thing.
As my wife and I were walking around our neighborhood on Thursday afternoon, we noticed a lot of husbands and wives out walking, shopping, spending time cafes and restaurants, and enjoying themselves on a weekday when you would not have normally seen working-age people at leisure. As many companies in Japan are encouraging people to work from home, this is likely what a telecommuting lifestyle looks like—a stark contrast to the salaryman lifestyle with its crushing commutes into the city and late night drinking with colleagues and customers.
On the morning of March 11, 2011, I picked out a tie, checked myself in the mirror, and then left the house to go to Tokyo without knowing that I would never again leave that house the same way. It was only hours later that the massive 3/11 earthquake struck Japan and its deadly tsunami ensued.
Below are seven pieces of advice I give to business leaders based on the most successful strategy practices I know. Whenever I discuss these in an open forum, there is always pushback from at least a few people, particularly in Japan. Some people are even offended! That’s OK.
If I am doing my job correctly, at least some people should be made to feel uncomfortable.