coronavirus business

Companies around the world are trying to make sense of this pandemic and what their response should be. But few articles specifically give companies practical, extremely effective strategies to pivot away from COVID-19.

Many blogs write about bold pivots like: Move to Healthcare. Or even worse: Go Online.

Like no one of us have ever thought of that? And move to healthcare? How am I supposed to just do that?

So how do we really assess and survive a global pandemic like COVID-19? How do we create practical strategies that ensure our short and long-term sustainability and profitability?

Well, let’s dig in and find out.

1. Identify your Industry (it’s harder than it sounds)

What industry are you in

Say, you own a restaurant. Would you say you’re in the food industry? Or even restaurant industry?


You’re in the same industry as cinemas, public pools, video games and amusement parks.

What makes these businesses the same? Consumers spending their time somewhere.

You’re not necessarily competing with the Mexican restaurant around the block. You’re competing with Disney World that’s 45 minutes away, the public pool that’s 10 minutes away or the cinema that’s across the street.

People are looking to spend time outside the house. You’re competing for their budget.

So in the first step in assessing exactly: “What am I really delivering?”, you can focus and increase the quality of that particular service or product.   

Only then, the strategies you implement are going to have any effect.

When you lower the price of your menu just below the Mexican restaurant’s you think you’re competing with, you’ll quickly discover it hadn’t any effect.

That’s why assessing in what industry you’re in and what you are really competing for is vital. Especially now.

2. Assess the Damage with these 6 steps

1. Perceive and don’t tolerate problems

The first step in effectively dealing with problems is to perceive the problems and don’t tolerate unsolved ones. Don’t see problems as painful issues that need to be avoided as long as possible.

See problems as a chance to improve yourself or the entire organization. As something you have to uncover, perceive and deal with as soon as possible.

Identifying problems

2. Don’t jump to a solution too soon

It’s natural for people to immediately try to solve a problem they encounter.

Before constructing an immediate solution after a nanosecond you perceived and recognized a problem, pause for a minute. First, you have to make sure you are fixing the root cause.

What questions do you need to ask to find out what the root cause(s) is of the problem? These:

  • What is exactly the outcome? What happened?
  • Did someone make a mistake, or is our system faulty?
  • How should it have worked? What broke and where?
  • What can we do so that it will work like it should?
problem solving

3. Distinguish Proximate Causes from Root Causes

Proximate causes are usually the actions that lead to a problem. It’s also possible that the lack of action leads to a problem as well.

Proximate causes should be further analyzed to find out what the root cause is of a problem.

It’s therefore vital to understand the proximate and root causes of an issue.

For example, if you miss the train you can blame it on that you didn’t check the train schedule.

But that’s a proximate cause.

You didn’t check the schedule because you’re forgetful. Or perhaps you’re chaotic and unorganized.

To find out if you have a proximate cause or a root cause, keep asking “why?”. In the end, you’ll end up with the root cause.

the importance of keep asking why

4. Be Specific in Identifying your Problems

Being specific in identifying your problems is necessary because specific problems require specific solutions.

If you’re bad at web design, hire a web designer.

If your employees make mistakes due to lack of training, train them or let them go if they aren’t fit for the job.

Once you identify the root causes of a problem, specify the problem and create a specific solution. 

5. Remember that you’re looking for the Best answer. Not necessarily your answer

Effective leaders understand that they don’t possess all the experience and expertise in the world.

Leaders are like a conductor, they don’t play the instruments themselves but guide an orchestra.

So effective leaders find and listen to different viewpoints and reliable opinions. Sometimes, their answer is not the best answer.

And only an effective leader sets aside his ego and admits there are better answers out there than his own.

6. Create a Solution and Keep Track

You can diagnose and specifically and accurately identify the root cause of a problem. When there is no plan or design to fix it, it was all for nothing.

The final step effective leaders take is to implement a solution. But the final step consists of a few steps:

  1. Identify exactly where to implement the solution
  2. Create the solution
  3. What went wrong?
    1. What can be done to make it go right this time?
    2. Did our solution have any effect today? Next week? Next month
    3. Do we need to make slight or major alterations to our solution?
    4. Did our new solution work today? Next week? Next month?

Creating a solution is not the end of it. Effective leaders track the problem and the effects of the solution(s) implemented.

It’s like tasting a soup. Every now and then you taste the soup to see if it tastes good. If not, you add a little bit of salt and pepper and taste again in a few moments.

how to solve problems

3. Aggressively Solve and Pivot

Let’s pause for a minute.

We’ve successfully identified our industry. Our competitors are now clear and so we know with whom we’re competing for our consumer’s budget.

We also know that due to COVID-19 (or some other disaster that might happen in the future) we encountered some problems.

Perhaps demand fell, perhaps the entire consumer behavior of our sector shifted somewhere outside our value proposition.

Lastly, we engineered a solution and tracking system. It’s time to take action.

A few things you always need to take into account when implementing solutions is it has to be sustainable and profitable in the short and long term.

Inform your employees early on about what’s happening and what the company is thinking about.

Employees tend to be more motivated and effective when they know the key reasons for any major pivot. You can read more about this in Ray Dalio’s Principles here.

Another important thing to remember is to act now. The longer you wait, the more the problems are going to cost.

At some point in time, the problem passes a tipping point where survival is no longer an option.

It seems that today Andy Grove’s quote is more applicable than ever: Innovate or Die.

What About You?

I hope this guide cleared a path for you and showed you 3 Extremely Effective Strategies to Pivot Away From COVID-19.

Now I’d like to turn it over to you:

What’s your favorite strategy to pivot away from COVID-19?

Have you created other strategies to solve your problems? Or maybe you’ve read another method somewhere online.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now or you can e-mail me.

Having problems during the COVID-19 Pandemic? Read our latest blog about solving problems effectively here.

Or check out this informative blog from the Harvard Business Review.

Need consulting? Check out our Emergency Consulting Services here.

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