Harvard Business School – Crisis Management for Leaders

I receive hundreds of emails about programmes in my inbox and I very rarely stop by to even read emails sent to my Harvard alumni inbox. At a time, when there are hundreds of WhatsApp messages and emails about training programmes on Corona Virus, what caught my attention were these words from the Harvard Business School email.

“For business leaders, managing risk in the midst of a global crisis is now “job one,” as uncertainty and change is taking place throughout our entire organizations. To address some of your concerns and point a path forward, HBS is offering a new five-part series of faculty-led programs on Crisis Management for Leaders.”

I registered for the programme just like 2000 other Harvard alumni from all over the world. It was an amazing, practical and interactive programme. As most of us are coping with the unprecedented changes due to the corona virus pandemic; we are learning to adapt our lives, business and the way we live. HBS Professors articulated in this alumnus only exclusive programme that managing risk is now ‘job one’ in the midst of this global crisis. They kept repeating that this is going to be a marathon.

I am not sure if my summary will do justice to the session, but I will try. Here is the summary:

Session One:  ‘Covid 19 as a novel event and Risk Management framework’

In the first session delivered by Dutch Leonard and Bob Kaplan, they highlighted managing routine risks framework with the risk categories: Preventable Risks, Strategy Execution Risks and External risks and the approaches to deal with them. In normal circumstances, one would plot the frequency: consequences graph where the frequency of the event and the accompanying consequences due to the event can be plotted. In this fast changing unpredictable scenario, it is impossible to plot the graph due to the high uncertainties now, they articulated that we are now in a situation that is highly uncertain, rapidly changing, beyond our capacity and knowledge; and one where, no one knows what to do for certain. We are working in a situation where it is – rapid innovation, under stress and embedded in fear. They emphasise that in situations like these, there are no precooked answers, all we can offer is the best process.

It is important to resist providing quick answers (likely, most of them will be wrong). We have to identify issues; it is very likely we will have competing priorities such as the economy and the health of the people. We have to ask the right questions then make the decisions and identify tasks to be executed in real time. We need a structure, people and a problem-solving method.

Of course, both in Singapore and Malaysia, we have witnessed strong leadership. The Director General of Health, Dato Nor Hisham Abdullah demonstrated the process and a problem-solving approach with his calm demeanour and firm leadership.

The 90 minutes Session One was incredibly powerful and practical.

As a colleague Dr Mohamad Salmi mentioned – this pandemic is changing the way we move on. Yet we can be positive, there is an opportunity to Reboot and Restart. The Earth 2.0 ecosystem is going to be based on new normal of personal hygiene, community interaction and business transaction. IR 4.0, 5G and public health (communicable diseases) will be the focal points for entrepreneurs, government and investors.

The message this is going to be a marathon was crystal clear.

Attached an article from the recent Harvard Business Review:

https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-new-rules-for-remote-work-pandemic-edition?cid=spmailing-32094742-WK%20Newsletter%2004-01-2020%20-%20Standard%20(1)%20A-April%2001,%202020