By now, it’s no secret that the key to success is strategic planning. For a company of any type or size, the effectiveness of their strategy at each level of execution determines their health, positioning, and likelihood for future prosperity. By aligning goals across the corporate and unit levels, companies can deliver more value. What happens, then, when a disruption as large as a global pandemic effects every virtually facet of a firm? How do they align their goals effectively?
The short answer is that not all of them do. The hotel, cruise, airline, and hospitality and tourism industries have arguably taken the biggest hit since COVID-19 swept the world. Entertainment and dining facilities come in as a close second. Depending on their preparation and willingness and capabilities to adapt, these sectors are not only struggling from a lack revenue. They’re suffering from a loss in confidence in their strategy and uncertainty for the future. However, in a market environment where they’re encountering frequent threats, other industries are finding expansive opportunities that have the potential to come full circle and lift them up.
There is a difference between companies that are doing well because its executives prepared for this kind of disruption with contingency plans and adapted and companies that are doing well because they were ahead of the curve from the beginning. In The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, Harvard Business Review’s Roger L. Martin emphasized the importance of a company’s strategy in giving them a competitive advantage. The idea isn’t to just maximize performance with the resources you have, but rather to put in a consistent effort to expand your capabilities and potential. Martin sums it up best when he asserts that “The objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success”. Intuitively, this seems like something executives and managers should think about after they’ve reached their targets and goals for the period. However, Martin argues that breaking boundaries should be at the forefront of their strategy in order to be successful. After all, from an operational perspective, the companies that are the most ahead of the curve are the least disrupted by COVID-19.
As it turns out, tech startups fall into the category of those companies that are increasing their odds of success. Companies like Zoom, DoorDash, Plaid, and Snowflake are making business and personal services accessible during a period of devastating inaccessibility.
It is likely that some companies will inevitably overreact in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19. In trying to readjust and normalize their options and strategy again, they might undergo serious structural and protocol changes. This becomes a challenge for firms that deliver tangible products in particular because their productivity is dependent on space and in-person operations, especially after considering that no one truly knows how long the effects of this virus will last or the residual public health challenges it could potentially introduce. An article recently published in the New York Times highlighted the reality many students faced this summer when large firms cancelled their internship programs. Resourcefully, a new tech startup swept in just in time with a response to this issue. Seedstages is a mobile app that allows students to find exciting tech sector internships while giving startups easy access to new and diverse talent to boost productivity in the post-pandemic world. Similarly, startups quickly realized the potential to gain student team members without having to implement costly and time-consuming traditional recruitment processes and are sweeping into the scene to hire new, optimistic talent. In this way, the technology sector is rapidly churning out solutions to unprecedented problems, and it’s up to us to take advantage of them.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call tech startups our future. Their adaptability and creativity combined with a capacity and willingness to innovate gives them an unavoidable competitive edge. Many industries are suffering during these tumultuous times, but tech startups are beginning to provide serious support to both consumers and businesses worldwide. And who knows? Within the next few months, maybe we’ll witness a new venture emerge to bring the most COVID-disrupted industries back to where they want to be.