COVID-19 is disrupting businesses from making sensible, well thought-out business decisions.

Like you, I have learned many lessons from others over the years who have imparted their wise knowledge. Of the countless things, there are two that have always stuck with me:

  1. “Always be honest.” Wise words from one of my former design professors at Carnegie Mellon University, which I remain until this day. 
  2. “If possible, always wait 15 minutes before responding.” From one of the former Adventure House partners, Robert Lowe. 

Focusing on point #2, following the 15-minute rule is especially sensible when you feel overwhelmed, emotional, or unsure of the right strategy but feel rushed to respond. Waiting 15, 30, 60 minutes or even overnight gives you the appropriate amount of space to think through next steps clearly, removing emotion from the equation. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is forcing many businesses and industries to break the 15-minute rule and scramble because fast changes need to be made or staying the path may no longer be feasible anymore. Of course, in this case, 15 minutes is a metaphor for a substantially reduced timeline guided by mounting pressure and a sense of urgency caused by the new business climate. Who could have ever predicted we’d be here?

When you don’t have the right amount of time to think, plan, strategize, how do you know you’re making the best, most sound business decision? Social media heavily influences our decisions and we get many differing viewpoints but the ultimate decision rests on our shoulders, especially if you’re a senior leader, business owner, or entrepreneur.

If it’s possible, try and think things through as best as possible first before reacting, considering:

  • Forecasting a range of scenarios: What are 3 potential scenarios for how to re-position your expertise or shift your capabilities to new industries that are sound or flourishing?
  • Asking trusted advisors for their insights: Every industry has their experts, lean on them, make connections with them on LinkedIn, seek out their insights, and register for a webinar if they’re offering it.

Also, ask yourself:

  • Is pivoting an option? Pivoting is risky, especially without the right planning and strategy, but it may easier for some companies than others, especially if you have the right relationships in place.
  • Are forging new partnerships to combine services with an option? This may be tricky but still very possible if you share common clients/industries and have a better, combined value proposition together than apart.

Adapting to our ‘new normal’ is going to be hard for everyone but, if possible, try to allow for the appropriate amount of time to think it through to avoid going down a road that doesn’t ultimately end with a great new opportunity.