A one year reflection on what we have learnt about sustainability during the pandemic

In my work as a management consultant, I am in dialogue with many companies regarding their long-term planning to stay competitive, to be sustainable and to add value to society. I’d like to share some of what I have met in the business landscape over the last year that in terms of change has been more like a decade.

Maneuvering the shock phase 

When the pandemic hit companies and markets around the world in the beginning of 2020, long-term planning was put on a halt. Regardless of industry, the general perception was that the uncertainties were so big, that long-term planning was meaningless. Companies had to focus on the short-term. In many industries it was about survival. In industries like travel, events, hospitality, the crisis was especially bad. With a large client in the event industry, a strategy development project was stopped in the middle when the CEO told us that they had lost 90% of revenues and were literally fighting to survive. Also in other industries the uncertainties were so great that planning became meaningless. In a crisis board meeting in an e-commerce fashion company, the CEO showed how sales were dropping double digits from one week to the next. We talked about lay-offs and crisis financing. Yet, only a few months later e-commerce picked up strongly in most segments and the year as a whole came out well.

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