COVID-19: A Crisis Every CEO Must Address

Posted on: March 17, 2020

CEOs must address growing disruptionsCOVID-19 is now a pandemic – and a crisis that CEOs at every organization must address.

Just in the past week, numerous public events have been canceled, high-profile sporting events have been postponed or canceled, colleges and school districts have closed, and travel has been curbed throughout the world. Workplace disruptions are growing and are likely to be more widespread in the immediate future.

Executives are dealing with the impact of workforce disruption. It’s no longer an issue that can be delegated. Many organizations had plans in place for their employees to work remotely, but most strategies and plans had not contemplated the magnitude of this disruption. Unfortunately, some are now scrambling to implement remote working programs.

CEOs are also waking up to the broader business implications of the pandemic. They are concerned about protecting their stakeholder’s interests, including the brand and value of their organization. Driving that concern is their understanding of how dependent their organizations are on external parties for the operation of their business functions. Whether they are in manufacturing, retail, financial services, or other industries, they are part of a global economy where they rely on other providers and sources for information and goods. If their third parties are vulnerable, that makes their own organizations vulnerable.

If they haven’t already, CEOs need to start talking about their ability to respond to disruptions in supply chains, service chains, information chains, and value chains. They need to consider what to do now, as well as what to do later if disruptions in these chains become chronic. Above all, they need to instill business resilience across the entire ecosystem of their organization.

The need for ecosystem resilience, I believe, will be one of the biggest lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Fusion, we’ve been helping our customers to map third-party dependencies and develop robust business continuity plans over many years. We’ve also worked with organizations to build risk and operational resilience plans. Unfortunately, this can’t be done in a fortnight. It requires compiling the data necessary to identify the process criticality and impact, and determining the relationships, both internally and externally, that are upstream and downstream of each process. Processes don’t exist in a vacuum. They are part of a business function, capability, or value stream within the organization and the greater ecosystem where your organization operates.

While this may sound like a resource-intensive task, it does not need to be, provided you have the right tools to capture the data. It does require an inquisitive mind and diligence when gathering and mapping all the dependencies. Once mapped, the data can be rendered to expose critical resource and external-party relationships. The result is the ability to quickly assess the downstream impact of the loss of any process, resource, application, facility, supplier, vendor, or other third parties. Armed with an understanding of the impacts that would result from a process disruption, and by aligning threats to each element of the ecosystem, your organization can identify the greatest risks and focus mitigation efforts accordingly.

This is the second Fusion blog I’ve written on COVID-19 but it probably won’t be the last. Unfortunately, we will be dealing with the health and economic fallout of this pandemic for the foreseeable future. During the fast-evolving events of the past few weeks, we have offered webinars and workshops on fundamental pandemic risk management best practices as well as developed the Resilience Toolkit – Powered by Fusion.

Webinars, I should add, are an excellent “social distancing” best practice during a pandemic. I wish you the best of luck as the situation evolves.