August 20, 2020

Reinventing your organization amid a crisis

Even if resources are constrained, you can bounce back stronger and better towards reinventing you organization to move your business forward


Reinvention happens all the time. We see many businesses rebranding to match consumer trends, while we see others making 360-degree changes inside and out, from the way they run the business to how they serve customers. The reality of our world is that change drives us toward constant reinvention and transformation. Dare to stay still and you risk losing your relevance.


However, what if we’re facing an economic crisis? Surely, business transformation at such a perilous time is mission impossible? With severe constraints on resources, organizations find themselves at a crossroads. On the one hand, they know that the longer they stay still, the worse it will get for their business. On the other hand, reinventing your organization — though a strain on resources — is the only way to make sure it survives.


How an organization gets back up is very important and dictates whether it can weather the current storm and survive. This is why reinventing your organization and people transformation really matter. Although not an overnight process, transformation needs to begin at some point, and now is the time.


Here’s how we can kick-start reinvention in our organizations.


Everything begins with people — the heart of the business.

The first thing you need to do is to understand where your people stand in the current crisis. Everyone reacts to change differently. Keep in mind that there are other factors that can affect your people such as the current way of working, the organization’s processes, and of course events in their personal lives.


At this point, mindset, resilience, learning, and agility are important for your people. These traits are the basic foundation of growth, and while they are innate to some, they can be developed in everyone. Without these foundations, we will find ourselves succumbing to failure. While agility and resilience are crucial, promoting learning also helps people to remain vigilant and prepared to overcome any new challenges.


Assess the current state of your business in relation to your customers.

A great question to ask at this stage is: Are my products and services answering the changing needs of my customers? While the answer may be “no” for some, even those that answer “yes” might find themselves struggling. This is because people’s behavior changes in a crisis — and along with it their consumption behavior, as we have seen to the dramatic event during the ongoing Covid pandemic.


Define the focus of your organization’s transformation depending on the insights of your people and customers

There are many ways to transform your business to retain your talents and answer the needs of customers. This includes adjusting the business model, shifting to different products, or changing the way you serve customers. This is an important first step towards reinventing your organization


But realistically, we cannot achieve everything we want for our businesses. While resources are limited, we need to refocus on a few focus points and do that well.


Set goals for the short and long term

Once we can define our focus, we can then define the goals. The best ways to measure our progress toward those goals. During a crisis, the most important goal is short-term: getting out of the crisis. However, long-term goals are also important to sustain the business in the future.


At this point, it is also important to prepare and implement a recovery plan. This should include a strategy and action steps that will allow you to resume operations as soon as possible. The crisis won’t last forever. Once it ends, organizations need to be ready to ensure the competition doesn’t get the upper hand.


Additionally, take all the lessons learned from the crisis. Use those lessons to apply them to the future strategy and culture of your business. For example, to embrace agility as a core part of its culture, today must be the first day.


Finally and most importantly, shift resources for optimal effectiveness

While it’s great to want to find new opportunities and grab them, it might not be realistic. This is because you’re working with limited resources due to the crisis. You must also shift your people — often referred to as reorganization — to focus on the goals at hand.


Change is never easy for an individual, much less an organization where there are many people to take care of. But with change comes the opportunity for us to pursue something even bigger and become even better than before.


While a crisis can be damaging, it cannot last forever. The most important thing is to make sure that when the crisis subsides, you are ready to jump back up stronger and better than before.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at