As the Covid-19 pandemic disrupts the way we live, work, and conduct business, leaders are scrambling to manage the immediate fallout. However, as history proves, it’s also necessary to prepare for what’s next. Visionary leaders like Abraham Lincoln, , Winston Churchill, and Nelson Mandela didn’t simply react to the most imminent threats confronting them; they also looked beyond the dark horizon. They were guided by their vision for a better future, after those challenges had been overcome.
Vision is critical during a crisis as global as this one. Inflections that you might have had five years to anticipate in a normal environment might unfold in a matter of weeks or months. Trend lines, such as those towards remote working, online shopping, and digital media consumption, are suddenly much steeper. Global supply chains are broken. Many of your B2B customers may be shut down; thousands of consumers are out of work. Some of the fundamental assumptions underlying your current business strategy may have been, at the least, challenged.
The business environment that you land in when the pandemic comes to an end may be very different from what it was before the crisis began. Leaders need to begin preparing for it now. To start that, you need to have a vision of what you aspire to become in five or even 10 years — a north star that will focus and help shape your thinking about the short and the mid-term. It may be hard to see now, but the seeds of the next great growth industries are taking root now. I think back to Apple 20 years ago, which famously envisioned and started to plan for the iPod and iPhone during the dotcom crash.
Of course, nobody has a crystal ball if such a thing existed, we wouldn’t be in this fix. But while you can’t predict what’s coming with perfect certainty, you can develop more clarity than you might imagine about what you could and should become, create a plan, and then set it into motion.