The “survive and thrive” matrix … my new framework to help you to accelerate business recovery and “build back better”

August 13, 2020

As businesses emerge from the initial crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the impacts are becoming clearer. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb which lost over $1 billion in direct revenues during the last 6 months, says that he now realises that his business will have to fundamentally change. “We got to big, we made some wrong decisions. We need to go back to what we are really about, connecting people. We will change dramatically” he said this month.

Some of the short-term Covid-19 survival measures, like Airbnb’s introduction of online home tuition classes – from cookery courses to salsa dancing – were a great success, and will continue. Some suspended business activities will resume, change, or never return. For many industries – from travel to healthcare – there will be lasting structural change.

Now is the moment, as we shift from survival to slow recovery, that businesses need to be decisive in what to do, and what not. Already, some companies – like Avon, Coursera, Door Dash and Stripe – have made decisive choices during the lockdown period, and are now thriving amidst the turbulence.

The “Survive and Thrive” Matrix

I created this “Survive and Thrive” Matrix as a simple four box framework for you to decide: what to continue, and what to change:

As you work through the “Survive and Thrive” matrix consider:

  • What can we learn from our survival actions, both the temporary activities that we will not continue, and the new actions that we will continue?
  • How can we embrace the new activities in ways that might lead to more lasting change, even change our view as to future possibilities and strategic goals?
  • As we restart activities that were temporarily suspended, how can we ensure that we do not fall back into our old ways, and inefficiencies?
  • How can we combine the new/enhanced and restarted/adapted activities, and accelerate them to create advantage, and shape the new emerging markets?

As Chesky made choices, both in crisis mode when the pandemic hit, but also now in recovery, he has stuck to a key principle … make decisions “future back”. By this he means don’t make decisions purely on the present, but start by thinking what is the future you still want to create, how are the conditions to get their changing, and what will be most important.

This takes both foresight, how you see the changed future, but also insight, how the attitudes and behaviours of consumers are changing, and will change. Obviously, a business with a strong clarity of purpose, will have a better starting point for decision making. Equally, as human and technology issues become more significant, and social and environmental issues become more urgent and popular in society, there are new factors to embrace in making the right choices, and developing innovative ways forward.

Helping you “Build Back Better”

“Build Back Better” is a new online program for business leaders, developed in partnership with GERBUS Academy, starting on 2 September, with 3 x 4 hour online workshops, in which I will work directly with you.

It is your opportunity to step back and reimagine your business, how it can most effectively recover in the short-term, in a way that also creates a better business for the long-term.

The pandemic and subsequent recession are moments of dramatic change in every market, for customers and business. It is challenging, but also a time of opportunity. In fact, 57% of the Fortune 500 companies were created during downturns, when attitudes and priorities shift.

The post-pandemic world is a unique chance to rebuild your business in a better way, one which is more sustainable, more agile and resilient, more future-proofed.

How will you “build back better” after Covid-19?

The program is accessed through GERBUS Academy and will have a global context, but at the same time, practically applied to the specific context of your own business.

The program is build on practical insights from around the world – how companies from Airbnb to Zespri and coming to terms with the consequences of chaos and uncertainty, change and transformation. For some it is a complete pivot in terms of products and services, for others it is a rush to become a truly digital business.

However at the same time, to seize the opportunity of this moment, not just to rebuild the way we were, to to build back better – for a better future – in a more agile and resilient, customer-driven and future-proofed way – but also to address some of the most pressing challenges – how to align business and society, technology and humanity, profits and a higher purpose.

Over these three intensive, practical yet stretching, half-day online sessions, I will guide you through a process for accelerating your business recovery as we move from crisis to downturn, and also shaping your business for a better future.

Sign up for the program here.