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When This Crisis Passes, Will You Be Ready?

By Ed Lynes

Thanks to the genius behind washyourlyrics.com, the Woden team has been scrubbing up to the tune of “Body Movin’” by the Beastie Boys for the past week. Like every business, we’re taking the appropriate caution related to the outbreak of COVID-19: having people work from home if they’re the slightest bit sick, encouraging more handwashing, and delaying client travel that isn’t essential.

Woden is somewhat fortunate: our engagements are almost entirely remote, except for a single on-site meeting (the StorySeminar). So, even in the case of further disruption, we feel confident about our business continuing close to normal. As we perceive the volatility of the world around us, though, a quote attributed to Winston Churchill has been posted in our office:

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Churchill faced a circumstance even more dire than coronavirus, but recognized that even with Nazi Germany only a few miles away, there was opportunity in crisis. Our clients and network are encouraged to adopt the same attitude. When the outbreak passes—which it will—every organization will be under pressure to make up for its impacts. While its underway, leaders will be challenged to keep their teams engaged while working remote.  Businesses can not control these external factors, but they can use the opportunity to prepare themselves for continuity into the future.

Whether it is due to cancelled conferences, reduced travel, or lighter occupancy costs, many organizations have capital to allocate. Now is the time to redeploy it, and make investments that will drive return in a healthy world. Re-think sales strategy. Invest in more robust content. Establish the framework for a remote work culture. Develop new customer experience strategies. The businesses that attack those opportunities most robustly are those that will thrive on the other side.

Here are some frameworks that can help you think about the right path forward for your organization:

Managing Crisis: J&J’s responses to the Tylenol and Opioid crises are effective guides for how brands can support and engage customers through even the hardest of times.

Pivot with Purpose: As companies navigate which elements of their organization can change, and which are essential to their brand promise, purpose must remain front and center.

Responding to Disruption: Brands can’t control when their markets are disrupted, but they can control how they respond. And those decisions dictate their longevity.

And don’t forget: many of us have lived through worse.

So yes, be cautious, and treat the people—clients, employees, and partners—who fuel your organization well as we navigate the current reality. But, don’t let the crisis go to waste. Woden certainly isn’t. Besides: as an office full of creatives, we’ve been practicing social distancing before it was trendy.

Ed Lynes is a founding partner at Woden. If you want a story-driven framework for navigating the current environment, read our extensive overview on the science of brand storytelling. Have a different thought on how to respond to volatility in the world? Ed would love to hear from you directly.