Managing Crisis and Adversity in Uncertain Times: What We Have Learned from the Covid-19 Pandemic and What to Do and Not Do When Facing a Crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented interruptions and challenges in almost every sector of business, including logistics and the supply chain. In 2020 when Covid first emerged as a global crisis and businesses began to temporarily shut down or reduce their operations, the global economy was temporarily turned off. As more information became available and as some mitigation strategies were put in place, the economy quickly rebounded, creating an environment where shipping demand outpaced market capacity. With many consumers spending more time at home and having access to more disposable income than in recent history, demand for goods raised retail volumes, specifically with-in the e-commerce space that are now years ahead of schedule with a supply chain that has struggled to keep up. From back-logs at ports, to driver shortages, to reduced equipment availability and an overall lack of predictability and precision, logistics companies along with shippers had to respond quickly in order to best meet their business needs in this new environment.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that can help guide businesses through any crisis:

Do’s

  • If you have not done so already – establish clear business needs and goals. This may seem obvious but to navigate any type of crisis, one should truly understand what the needs and goals of the business are and where the business is headed. Every major business decision should be aligned with achieving those goals. If you already have a plan but have had to “look under the hood”, it would be a good time to do an overall review of the business and reassess the goals of your organization.
  • Be ready and willing to pivot when a scenario is not going as expected. Use existing resources in new ways to adapt to quickly changing situations. “This is how we always do things” and like language needs to be eliminated from your vocabulary. Do take the situation that your business is facing as an opportunity to be your own consultant with-in your business and to be a stronger leader and company as a result of it.
  • Engage your partnerships and work together. Have open and candid conversations with vendors, clients, customers and staff about the challenges that have come up. With clear communication, these relationships can be strengthened and keep everyone working with synergy towards a common goal. The strongest partnerships are ones where expectations from all parties are understood and in alignment with the business goals.

Don’ts

  • Don’t overreact and throw away what is working. Trust what your company has done to become successful and continue to invest in the people and processes that support this success. “Stay calm and trust the process.”
  • Although you should not overreact, don’t expect to see different results if nothing changes. In times of adversity and uncertainty, doing nothing and “hoping” things will get better is not always the best strategy.
  • Don’t be the victim. It can be too easy to want to blame external factors that you may have limited to zero control over, such as the economy and the overall environment that may be impacting your business in a negative way. Focus on what you can control and do not make excuses.

Adapting to adversity in uncertain times requires a deft willingness to meet the moment. With agility, clear communication and the willingness to think and act differently, companies can position themselves to not Only survive a crisis, but to be better because of it.

About the Author

Let's Talk Supply Chain Managing Crisis and Adversity in Uncertain Times: What We Have Learned from the Covid-19 Pandemic and What to Do and Not Do When Facing a Crisis. 1

Kristy Knichel, a lifelong Pittsburgh native, is a second-generation logistics executive. She is CEO of Knichel Logistics, Inc. and presently holds the Intermodal Logistics Conference Chair on the TIA Board of Directors.

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