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The crisis that arose from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has profoundly influenced how business will be conducted in the future. Once the short-term survival of their organization has been secured, business leaders will be pressured to consider the potential impacts of this crisis on their long-term strategy.

But making fundamental strategic decisions is difficult at this stage – not least, because the situation is still so volatile. Everyone is forced to learn as they go along, relying on hard data and a healthy dose of gut instinct to guide them in the best approaches forward.

When the Movement Control Order (MCO) came into force in March 2020, businesses tried to respond to the crisis the best way they know how. Companies were driven to reset quickly to address immediate cash burn and attain a minimum viable business model within the shortest time possible. While this attempt at immediate gain is understandable, business leaders should note that new challenges arising from this pandemic call for a measured, practical and informed approach, especially if long-term gains are to be achieved.

Companies now need to move away from reacting to prepare for recovery, and ultimately rebuild to thrive in the new reality. Recovery will entail a self-assessment to come up with honest responses to these questions:

What to aim for

  • Do I need to engage in emergency liquidity measures?
  • Are my financial goals still realistic in the mid-term?
  • What options do I have to strengthen the ability to withstand the impact on liquidity, income and assets in a crisis situation?
  • Does this crisis change my strategic goals?

Where to play

  • Has this crisis changed my view on attractive business models?
  • What are my possibilities to implement a digital-first business model to reach my customers more effectively?
  • Will my offerings still be attractive in a post-crisis world?
  • Are there any new offering opportunities due this crisis?
  • Has this crisis altered my view of which markets / geographies are attractive?

How to win

  • Which of my core business processes need to be changed to increase resilience?
  • How did our technological infrastructure fare during this crisis?
  • Have my people been able to thrive and flourish during this crisis? What needs to be changed to enable them?
  • Has our organization and governance proved effective during this crisis?
  • Do I need to change the incentives of my people to keep them motivated during a crisis and in the new normal?

To help business leaders move from reactive short-term measures towards a recalibrated strategy for the long term, KPMG’s Global Strategy Group developed a framework to identify nine levers of value. 

The 9 Levers of Value

Source: KPMG International, Global Strategy Group’s framework for operational excellence and resilience

Five levers – Strategic and financial ambition; Clients and channels; Core business process; Operational and technology infrastructure; People and Culture – have been identified to be most significantly impacted by a crisis.

Ultimately, the framework is designed to help Board members and senior leadership align challenging financial ambitions with the core elements of a sustainable business model and the aspiration for operational excellence and resilience.

It is unclear how long this period of volatility will persist, hence the companies that can recalibrate quickly will be the ones to triumph in this unprecedented story. Those who get it right will see quick returns, and there will be little room for complacency in this new reality.