Different times require a different response – our response to COVID

The Davies Report - Thinking Risk Differently
Risk but not as you know it. Strategic shifts and strategic risk at scale.

Most likely you’re receiving a flood of news updates today. It’s important to put them in context.

As I write today we are in an exceptional moment in history. 

While the circumstances are very different, it feels very familiar on many levels to some of the big moments in history. I wanted to share a few thoughts to help put it in context.

Interplay in the flood of events

Most likely you’re receiving a flood of COVID19 and market updates. 

Like most of us you’ll be trying to make sense of them and what’s coming in the next 48 hours as events unfold and big decisions are made, many on a rapid timeframe.

Most reports that I’m seeing are immediate flash reports of unfolding events within immediate time windows. Most of the risk advice I’m seeing calls on the usual business continuity and resilience frameworks and approach.  

Few reports have had the time to go into the interplay of second and third order effects on a multi-sector multi-scale basis. This is where great strategy, risk response and next week’s news lives.

Reacting in real time and usual BCP is necessary in the short term, but is not where breakthroughs happen. It also means that black swans are likely.

Moments like this call for something different, hence the quick bulletin.

Massive strategic shifts afoot 

Today is an important time in history. 

With so much in flux, risk and opportunity is presenting itself in ways that are not normally present.  

Big change is rarely smooth. True disruptive innovation and breakthroughs happens in moments exactly like this, when a confluence of factors mean that things that were inconceivable are now necessary, and in short timeframes.

It’s worth remembering that Uber was born in a moment like this. If people weren’t forced to change modes of transport in a crisis then perhaps Uber wouldn’t exist today. 

Most likely we’re also on the crux of major pivots in business models too.

Different approach required

All risk categories are in currently play simultaneously – operational risk, continuity, financial risk. 

The biggest one is possibly strategic risk. Make no mistake this is absolutely in play and is often the category that endures when the crisis is complete as shown in the data below.

After a decade studying black swans, business model disruption and strategic risk including who wins and loses, the biggest learning is that timing is everything. The approach must support good analysis for decision making at the right time and scale. This is critical.

Different times call for a different response

We are not in BAU right now.  Moments like this require exceptional leadership including breaking step from the usual ways of doing things.  

They require three things:

  • Smart, clear eyed decision making – that understands the interplay of second and third order effects, and can keep pace with the pace of new data and push decisions to the right teams at the right times.
  • Clear response plans: Multiple horizons with review cycles that match and keep pace with unfolding events, feeding back into decision making.
  • Exceptional comms: Order amongst chaos requires clear leadership and comms. As one senior executive said to me this week “no one ever complains about extra communication during a crisis”.  This is particularly when rumour abounds and consistency of understanding and response is required.

We’re ready to help

In the last 72 hours we’ve reviewed pandemic response across multiple sectors to get our head around the issue and the second and third order effects. We are now geared up to support decision making and provide surge capacity.

Speed of response is critical. If you need support we’re ready to go. Feel free to ring me at any time.


Don’t miss our updates. Subscribe here.

More from this series