From war rooms to nervous systems

You love the concept of disruption, and companies generally love to talk about it — and with the current pandemic, they’ve got their fill. In the coming months, businesses will have to face several massive, unexpected transformations.

Although no one really knows what the new normal will look like, four macro-trends will probably have a strong impact on its general design: the massive transfer of brick-and-mortar businesses to digital channels, a rearrangement of the job market, new regulations, and heightened attention to health risks. How can we navigate our way through this new world, which is likely to be more changeable than the old one because of an unpredictable virus? Start by discarding some of your old habits, like the use of crisis management teams or other types of war rooms. Instead, devise new steering bodies based on the nervous system of living beings. In more concrete terms: flexible structures that are in permanent contact with every entity in the company, and an organization equipped with a single data platform and two closely connected heads: one dedicated to short-term crises and the other to anticipating the future. The latter will be fueled by feedback about actions that have already been implemented, will detect faint signals predicting change, and facilitate their inclusion in discussions and action plans.

 

To go further:Return: a new muscle, not just a plan” by Mihir Mysore, Bob Sternfels, and Matt Wilson (McKinsey, April 2020).