Navigate disruption and seize post-COVID opportunity: Michael McQueen

2020 has brought unprecedented and unexpected challenges and has put many if not all businesses under enormous pressure. But, businesses can play the disruptions caused by COVID-19 to their advantage, according to multi-award winning speaker, trend forecaster and bestselling author Michael McQueen.

In a Konica Minolta hosted webinar, McQueen said kick starting business post-COVID involves studying what history has taught us.

“From a business perspective, the effects of COVID-19 is not unprecedented. We’ve seen a lot of industries face significant crisis or disruptions over the years and studying history has shown us what businesses have done well in the midst of crisis,” he said.

“When these things happen, how do businesses react or respond? What’s interesting is, if you look at some industries, they take a hit but they do come out of it better.”

For businesses that navigate crisis well, McQueen said there are three things that they consistently do. These include:

  • Distinguishing between tides versus waves: Determining what has a short-term impact and appears quickly and retracts and what is slow moving but over time, changes the landscape
  • Thinking about principles, not just profits: When crisis hits, that’s when you know what businesses stand for as focus should be on customer experience over profitability
  • A focus on revolution instead of evolution: There is a place for continual improvement but evolution isn’t going to be enough as “the electrical light never came out of the continual improvement of the candle”.

According to McQueen, as a result of COVID-19, the future is arriving ahead of schedule.

“There are significant changes we’ve seen as a result of COVID-19. There’s the rapid demise of cash, the rise of QR codes and holographic boards and the removal of human touch points,” he said.

“But it’s very interesting to see what businesses are doing to navigate this change. If you take Amazon as an example, about two years ago, the business filed patent applications for Amazon Prime Air – a drone delivery system – and there’s now a race to make these things reality far earlier because of supply chain bottlenecks and the growth of e-Commerce as a result of COVID-19.”

McQueen also spoke about the increasing use of virtual reality, especially in training and remote engineering, as well as the growth of working from home arrangements.

“Necessity is the mother of evolution. Home offices have also become a norm, with more businesses having staff work from home – it’s become an expectation. This, to a large extent, is here to stay. There are trends underway that show that now is the time to get ready for them and position ourselves to win in three to five years’ time.”

McQueen added that businesses should focus on creating trust and reputation.

“When times get tough, lots of businesses do the opposite and because of that, they end up paying a big price in the long-term. Look back at the fundamentals of your business and have a rethink. Be real as you need to build trust with your staff and the marketplace,” he said.

McQueen expects more change to follow in the coming months and said businesses should prepare themselves for more change before these changes take effect.

“A fundamental rethink is required and that’s where so many industries are at right now. COVID is and remains a difficult time for many of us but this is an opportunity to step back and reinvent the way we do things. In the coming months, as we come out of this crisis, the success stories of 2030 are going to be written,” he said.

“This is the time to choose if you’re going to just scrape through the crisis or be part of a group that comes out of it better.”

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