Organized response to COVID-19: McKinsey teaches organizations how to build a network of teams


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Giant consulting firm, McKinsey, says the COVID-19 outbreak possesses some characteristics of a ‘landscape scale’ crisis. It describes that as an unexpected chain of events laden with disorienting uncertainties that have the capacity to hijack organization’s sense of control and breed emotional disturbances.

According to the firm, combating such crisis demands leaders recognize and accept that their business is confronting some crisis. The second is understanding that they cannot respond to this type of crisis as they would other emergency situations. Considering the unique scenario, and the unpredictable nature, businesses will need to take improvised actions targeted at minimizing the gruesome effects on their organizations, the employees and the leaders.

Work is being disrupted and employees are most likely to work from home; however providing the employees with infrastructure and resources is key

One of the approaches suggested by the global firm is to organize a network of response teams, and let go of the usual top-to-bottom and command-and-control framework. The reason is no organization can fully claim to understand the nature of the COVID-19, which, in other words, means operational solutions can come from the least of places.

It puts it this way, ” To promote rapid problem solving and execution under high-stress, chaotic conditions, leaders can organize a network of teams. Although the network of teams is a widely known construct, it is worth highlighting because relatively few companies have experience in implementing one.”

“A network of teams consists of a highly adaptable assembly of groups, which are united by a common purpose and work together in much the same way that the individuals on a single team collaborate”, the firm added.

See demo below:

As demonstrated by the exhibit, the network of teams is multidisciplinary and adaptable. It comprises of groups with specialized focus that ties into the singular purpose of helping the organization survive the external effects of the current crisis on the business and its personnel.

While one section seeks to understand and digest events occurring outside the business, another section works out the implications on the business and make quick adjustment to mitigate an overt disruption. It is therefore, lastly, the role of the top section to hold the other sections together by fostering collaboration and transparency.

In sum, the responsibilities allotted to the groups in the network include: scan the environment for updates, analyze impacts of new events (including medical and economic policy changes), plan scenario effects on business and workforce; work-out new model of working (such as work-from-home), build necessary infrastructure (technology) to adapt to new operational framework, sought resources and redistribute resources, communicate externally and internally to ensure everyone is kept abreast of current situations, ensure facility are kept in the best shape, maintain supply chains (inventory and distribution) to the best of allowed capacity, and provide emotional support where necessary.

The unpredictable scale of the Coronavirus is already affecting the scope of work. With hundreds of thousands already infected around the world, and around 10,000 deaths reported as a result, governments and organizations are putting people’s lives first. In doing that, business is seen as secondary priority.

Therefore, business executives and owners must ensure their means of livelihood survive the pandemic. This is why installing a network of teams to respond to uncertainties is key.

Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka writes with simplicity and insight. He aims to enrich the Nigerian small business landscape. Through Hustle24 he connects entrepreneurs with information about new policies, enterprise solutions and opportunities that will aid their 'hustle'. He has written extensively for CobraReview, a product review portal, and served as a lead project manager for MarketingMix where he consulted as PR consultant for MTN Project Fame and Business Next Titan etc.


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