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No plan survives first contact with the enemy

Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson once quipped about his opponents that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” This might reflect some business leaders’ feelings today in the COVID-19 environment. All of their plans might be suspect due to rapidly changing dynamics in the workplace. My colleagues and I feel business leaders need to refine their plans because of an economy under siege from a resilient virus.

It’s clear to us that the coronavirus is not going away any time soon, and that hotspots will likely migrate from state to state -- even country to country -- until a vaccine is approved and brought to market. Even then, the speed with which it can be deployed around the world -- not to mention how many people will actually get the vaccine -- is a question that can’t easily be answered.

It's likely the discussion will once more center on “acceptable risk” when it comes to the numbers local leaders need to observe before they fully open the economy. The million-dollar question will be: What vaccination rate is good enough? 50% in an area? 75%? And once we see that vaccination rate, will we declare victory and move back to more normal conditions in our schools, workplaces and churches? We don’t know the answer right now, so we think your business strategy and operational planning should take into account the “new norm” of this changing world we live in.

Since COVID is here for a while -- and the mega-trend of “The New Digital World” is likely with us for good -- here are some suggestions your company should consider in adjusting your business plans:

• Embrace virtual teaming, get better at it and make sure your IT system supports the reality of a new business model.

• Ensure your video meeting formats are secure and reliable -- the competition is watching and hackers are everywhere.

• Consider an updated supply chain for both your professional operations and your people's home delivery needs.

• Make sure service contracts are up to date as e-commerce delivery delivery options evolve to meet your requirements.

• Determine your actual transportation needs, like whether your company needs such a big fleet of vehicles or not.

• See if you can incentivize work-from-home options and allow your people to get rid of one of their cars.

• Review your Human Resources, Resourcing and IT departments to ensure they support your new business model.

• Make sure your workers have necessary training to empower them for inevitable change.

• Consider the evolving commercial real estate market to find the best deals due to COVID.

• Review the residential real-estate market since it is likely stagnant in high-density areas and upbeat in other regions.

• Consider how people will migrate out of big cities due to the harsh effects of a pandemic on their psyche.

• Expect business leaders and families will consider moving from high-cost areas to better value, lower tax areas.

The bottom line from our standpoint is the only constant in our new economy is change, and that reality likely holds true in your businesses as well, so get ready for it. Revisit your plans soon and be more willing to listen to other people’s viewpoints, especially if they are different than your own. Generals always remind themselves during battle that no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy, so don’t kid yourself that your current business plans will work tomorrow.


Jake Polumbo is a Founding Partner and Senior Consultant in Two Blue Aces Consulting. He also serves as the Chair of the Board of the Central Florida Development Council. TBA provides executive-level services to our clients focusing on their business needs. Along with 5 other General Officers from the U.S. military plus 2 recognized leaders in the Florida Real Estate Market, TBA specializes in strategic reviews, business plan development, leadership training and executive-level assessments & evaluations.

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