The Covid-19 outbreak is unlike any previous crisis: What should CEO's be doing?

The Covid-19 outbreak is unlike any previous crisis: many companies are wondering how to support global efforts, deal with the situation and potential economic consequences.

March 2020 | 3 min read

As the global pandemic deepens and the human cost of Covid-19 rises, the coronavirus outbreak is unlike any previous crisis. Fundamentally changing working patterns, impacting the global economy, and sending shocks through the world economy. But across industries, what actions should CEO’s be taking to protect their employees and customers and minimize the economic damage.

Leadership teams are working hard to support their employees, customers and communities, all the while remaining cognizant of the impact that the pandemic may have on their own business. As a HealthTech business there is a renewed focus on how telehealth and digital health can support healthcare workers and the patients that they look after and across the world we have seen HealthTech deployed by companies at a paid pace and healthcare systems adopt solutions quicker than ever before. The challenge however is to protect for what comes next and to ensure that businesses survive to be ready for arguably the new normal.

  • Align your team – get your entire team aligned to the situation, communicate clearly and often. Run a remote all-hands for your team to explain your plans, what is expected and what is required from your people.
  • Make people safety your number 1 priority – assess safety across all people (employees, customers suppliers etc) implement home working where possible and your emergency response plans.
  • Critically assess your ability to survive – profile cash and P&L, assessing external and internal scenarios across revenue, cost, cash and operations. Think about cash preservation and cost reduction and build out financial projections across a number of scenarios for 3, 6 and 12 months. 
  • Review projects and work streams – set up contingency plans and ensure that owners are assigned and decision rights are established to keep the right things moving in case your normal accountability and responsibility pathways are unavailable.
  • Prepare and stabilise – focus on immediate priorities and make swift and decisive decisions. Defend against revenue decline and stabilise your supply chain.

Many companies have already aligned their teams, made people the number one priority, reviewed projects and workstreams but survival and growth is going to require CEO’s and leadership teams to focus on their companies financial health – P&L, cash, and liquidity positions. Companies should be focussing on pressure testing their financial health. Some of the questions companies should be asking themselves include:

  • How are we testing our companies response to a range of near term challenges and medium to long term opportunities?
  • How long is our runway with the current level of burn rate, how long can we continue to operate, when would we need to take action, does it allow us to respond to our customers and continue to create value?
  • Have we explored all sources of capital, initiatives and packages available to support the business and what is the lead time do they require?
  • Have we put in place measures to protect all people in our business and those that will directly help us to manage through he pandemic and once it is over?

It is important to continue to pursue organizational transformation, improve communication and identify opportunities to reduce cost and improve cash management. HealthTech businesses that survive will be in a position to help healthcare systems recover when the pandemic is over as there is likely to be a lot of ground to cover. Equally important is taking the time to think about what the future will look like and take the opportunity to put new systems and practices in place today that can deliver value tomorrow.

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Kevin McDonnell


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