McKinsey offers sage advice for second wave

Businesses struggling during the second wave of COVID-19 are urged to adopt the principles of agility that saw other organisations through the first.

These are among the findings of a study of senior leaders in global businesses conducted McKinsey for business resilience organisation, Resilience First.

It says businesses that have embedded agility into their organisational and decision-making structures are proving more adaptable and resilient in the face of COVID-19 and are bouncing back better than their competitors.

McKinsey & Company partner, Christopher Handscomb said there is a clear link between agility and resilience: “Agile organisations combine the efficiency of scale with speed, flexibility and resilience. They do so by combining stable and dynamic elements. Through our work we found that organisations who adopted agile practices during COVID-19 were better able to weather the disruption caused by the pandemic and demonstrated greater resilience.”

Head of distribution capital delivery at UK Power Networks, and Resilience First member, Brian Stratton, said: “Our overhead power lines are built to be resilient but can be affected by severe weather, so we have to be an agile organisation. When such weather occurs, we can see the number of power supplies affected, rise rapidly and by many times the normal daily average. To cope with this the majority of our staff have joint roles. They have a normal day-to-day role and they also have a storm role where they are trained to react in an emergency.”

“There were a lot of rapid decisions we had to make in the first 7 days of lockdown to ensure that we came back stronger than we were before this event. We had resilience plans and had already spent a year investing in the IT to enable many of our office staff to work from home. Aside from our operational engineers out on the road, we went from an office-based model pre-COVID-19 to over 3,500 working from home during the first wave.”

McKinsey's report, Agile Lessons from COVID-19 for the Next Normal will be published in February 2021.

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