A Zoom call for Global Sports Tech Talks — 17.04.20
I was lucky or unlucky to be in the middle of 2 crises as Managing Director of sizable organizations.
- Athens Dec 2009 and the following quarter — a financial crisis with social implications. The company I was managing lost 80% of its bottom line almost over night.
- Kiev Feb 2014 — fast developments, political and geopolitical war, loss of territory, fear, unrest, shootings, chaos.
I published those learnings in an HBR article 5 years ago and built them further in my new book, The Gift of Crisis, How Leaders Use Purpose to Renew their Lives, change their Organizations, and Save the World.
I have also reflected on how our experiences shape us, and what bad luck actually means and whether that’s something to be avoided or embraced. Through my experiences and the writing of my book, I have concluded that crisis is not bad luck, but good luck. It is a gift, and it is your best coach, guru and personal trainer.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global never-seen-before crisis for our generations with enormous impact at personal, collective, corporate, and national levels.
Sports, like many other activities in our life has been disrupted, but is not gone for good.
The work I am doing with my clients, colleagues and collaborators on Crisis Leadership is threefold. BEFORE — DURING — AFTER any crisis.
Some thoughts to consider:
First, during the crisis
Shift from “fog fear” to “tent time” — like a South Pole Explorer was teaching us when I invited him for a speech in Kiev
· Stay together at whatever cost even remotely as it must be done now with COVID-19.
· Everybody is stressed. It`s OK. Positive stress can be a powerful motivator, helping teams create clear paths to winning. Most people develop negative stress, called chronic stress.
· The role of the leader is to reinforce the former and minimize the latter.
· They say that when a crisis hits, a portion of people, 15% or so, are frozen, scared to death. A good minority, let’s say one tenth, becomes movers and shapers and the rest desperately want to follow orders and guidelines.
Become a “what if” machine
· Imagine alternative scenarios constantly. Think in extremes. Can you still be operationally alive without revenues for 6 months, for 1 year?
· Especially for start-ups, how long does the runaway last?
· Can you get a preferential term sheet from your sponsor shareholder because of the crisis?
· Old Planning goes to the garbage bin
· Trigger Points lead to new scenarios
Avoid secrecy, be open and transparent to your people
· Frequent communication
· Share new developments
· Style (how you communicate) is very important
Rely on others as much as possible
· Discover the hidden talents in your organizations
· Give over more responsibility not less
· Build your team
· Invite experts to support you
They frequently ask me, how is the Leader in Crisis? Can you give us an example?
The closer picture I have in mind is that of a basketball coach during a very intense game. Imagine this person`s voice, movements, looks, sweats, the touch at the back of the disappointed player who missed the last shot, the high-fiving at the end of the time out.
After all, what is really important appears to be
· Trust & Empathy
· Learn from others
· Get ready to plan, re-plan and pivot
What about After Crisis
The first and most important thing to remember is that the after-crisis work, call it recovery or reform, must begin amid on fire, during the crisis.
What could be your “new normal”?
Consider initial signs, how other industries have evolved, and what the winners are doing
For example, the “at-home” use case is booming!!
· Entertainment (music, movies, gaming etc.)
· Work from home
· “Sanitation at Supermarkets”. Can this be a new selling point?
· What is the new role of technology and innovation? How can you capture and use data to reflect the new era, the changed consumer needs?
· Will isolation options be part of holiday provider offerings in the hospitality industry? The luxury hotel in Switzerland who developed fast an all-inclusive quarantine service line for its wealthy guests is a good example.
· Will education go ala carte, combining digital and physical class presence in a new, evolving way?
· Think potentially of de-globalization of the supply chain, possibly moving from just-in-time, to just-in-case i.e. retaining some capacity for emergencies?
· Reviewing all costs line by line. Radically decreasing fixed and eradicating variable costs. Determining what is the essential part of my cost basis?
Think about Purpose now. What is the real reason why your business exists — beyond money and profit? Think about the planet.
This New Delhi before and during Crisis. People understand the difference, and they get the big picture.
Like Maslow’s famous pyramid, a new hierarchy is rising to illustrate what people need from leadership as they adapt from overcoming early shock to helping build a brighter future in an expedited way.
Purpose evolves as you climb the steps.
A canned sense of purpose will be the first thing to replace when a crisis hits. What do you believe in when life is at stake?
Early in the crisis, needs will be basic. When the organization becomes more confident, needs will evolve as options and solutions ahead seem to be more complex. At the top of the pyramid a company can successfully redefine the reason for its existence, change its processes accordingly, capture hearts and minds, enter new markets, craft the new-normal and possibly save the planet.
Going back to sports, what would be the new normal in what some people call the touch-less economy? Analysts believe that Sports may be the 2nd most severely impacted industry by the crisis. Hospitality and travel are number one. What can you do about it? In my view Technology, Consumer Behavior, Industry Trends and Regulation are the key influencers of the future.
How people will act vis a vis sports, what are the technology tools to harness, what will be the new rules of the games for athletes, spectators and at-home fans?
Despite all the devastation and disruption, this pandemic offers an incredible gift to start-ups, progressive minds, people engaged in the innovation ecosystem, investors and coaches. The active, bright, skillful sports tech community should not follow the post COVID-19 developments, but to lead the game in a better future.