What’s Next? Leading Through a Pandemic into Recovery.

We’ve been through some very interesting times over the last few months, and we’re not done yet. As the CEO of an essential technology company, survival boils down to managing through uncertainty.

I teach some project management courses at a local community college. We talk a lot about risk registers, writing down risks and anticipating risks, even getting very data driven around FMEA (failure mode effect analysis). Fundamentally, you try to anticipate things that can go wrong, either for a technology or a sale or running a company. I can tell you that none of us had a global pandemic as a risk register item. We’re all dealing with unique situations and things that are brand new.

In my recent Q&A with a Tech CEO webinar, I addressed how we responded to the start of the pandemic, how we deployed technologies and people in new ways to continue to run companies, keep sales flowing and stop the bleeding. Those of us in productive environments, where our services were highly sought after, rallied people behind those opportunities.

After response comes resilience, a phase many of us are currently in as governors begin relaxing “stay at home” and “safer at home” orders. It’s where we think beyond the crisis to the short term – the cusp of recovery. 

And finally, the fun part – recovery. What to do next. How we plan for restart and take advantage of what’s further ahead. This last part is what I’ll focus on in today’s article and video, which you can watch by clicking the image below.


This round of pandemic is going to end soon, we hope. Then we can all get back to the things we love, like meeting in person and traveling for business. And hopefully – someday – a vacation. To plan for a restart, prime the pump. Be prepared for pent-up, delayed demand. We’ve heard a lot of people say, “Let’s just hold on for a couple weeks and see where this thing goes.” When they say, “I’m ready,” we had better be ready.

Use messaging to set some expectations around a soft open. I don’t think any of us believe that we’re going to just jump on a plane and start traveling again a certain day. We don’t know what policies will be in place or how social distancing will look after June. Plan for a soft open and adjust as conditions present themselves.

Consider incentives. Customers might need a little encouragement to jump back into spending. Programs like a 30-day free start, delayed billing or service add-ons may encourage people to ease back into using your products and services. Get creative. Look at how many businesses are now selling things virtually. We’ve witnessed wonderful examples of companies being flexible and innovative during this time.

New normal policies will be fun to debate. Has the belief that you-can’t-work-from-home-we-need-this-team-here changed permanently? Will some employees never come back to the office or only come in for an all-hands meeting when the coast is clear? Are we going to reduce paper use by only signing documents through DocuSign? Some things will probably change forever. Leverage what has worked for you during this time period. Write down the wins in terms of success stories. Where people have worked from home successfully, think about not taking that away when we go back to an office-based environment.

I welcome your comments about your experiences during the pandemic and how you envision the restart. Feel free to contact me to continue this discussion.


Mike is a technology person by nature and an electrical engineer by training. Over the years he has worked in large and small companies with local and global teams. Mike finds that technology is one of those things that can be a wonderful assistant and can also be quite frustrating when it’s not working well. He enjoys talking about the intersection of leadership, organizational change and technology.