Gopal Krishnan, Founder & Chairman, Ninestars
When I am writing this note, COVID-19 has already disrupted our lives on an unprecedented global scale. With more than a million reported cases across countries and nearly 75,000 deaths, COVID-19 has brought the world to a screeching halt. As we go through the throes of the lockdown, the pandemic has pushed the world into a health emergency, showed the cracks in healthcare systems, questioned business models, slowed down the economy, and exposed the vulnerabilities of even developed countries like Italy and the US.
To me, COVID-19 is the mother of all disruptions. I believe leaders who will rise to the challenge to be resilient and adaptable and won’t let the crisis stop them from moving forward will come out stronger and wiser.
Disruption as an individual
Social distancing has brought forth a lot of anxieties, fear, and uncertainties for all of us. Most of us are facing added pressure from remote working. Instead of being discouraged by the situation, I urge all of you to find ways to manage stress. In my organizations, we have introduced the concept of 5H (Happiness, Health, Habits, Hard work, and Harmony) for WFH where we discuss important elements like happiness and health through virtual sessions on yoga and meditation. With the help of experts, we share techniques and tips to keep anxiety in check. These people connect initiatives that instill in us the power of camaraderie and hope. In these trying times, it is important to practice empathy not just towards others but to ourselves too. Invest time in yourself and emerge as a stronger person when the crisis is over.
Disruption to business
Shortly after the government’s directive to reduce capacity at offices, we rolled out remote working for our staff. What made it possible? Apart from the dedicated effort of our IT infrastructure and administration teams along with the leadership, we have our pioneering effort on workflow automation and cloud infra to thank for. We started on the automation journey much before it became a buzzword in the industry. We have worked systematically, embracing advanced technologies to reach a high percentage of automation, regardless of the diversity or complexity of processes we deal with on a daily basis. Some of our Operations teams work in continuous shifts with extremely tight delivery schedules. These teams are able to continue to deliver customer promise, with minimal interruptions at the beginning of this crisis, due to the technology backbone we have built and continue to make stronger.
However, the crisis is a disruption that would trigger innovation, not just in how we apply technology to deliver better but how we will reshape business models and rethink people engagement. I will not be surprised to see accelerated change, both in small and medium enterprises where change is inevitable and larger businesses who will be forced to rethink priorities.
Disruption on a global front
Upending lives across the globe, shutting down entire cities and countries in a matter of days, only an immediate threat like COVID-19 could bring the world to its knees. With this deep collective vulnerability, it is time to lean on and lift up each other to weather this storm and come out wiser, stronger and kinder than before. Our frontline healthcare practitioners, policymakers, research agencies, private sector, governments at all levels and international organizations will have to work together and reevaluate priorities. If we have to build readiness to manage future health crises, we have to build a new normal in terms of responsive healthcare systems and investments in the right initiatives so that communities worldwide, and not just a privileged few, have access to life-saving measures. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us how interdependent we really are.
It is not a time to panic but observe caution. Stay strong and invest time in yourself and family. Stay alert and explore new ways to deliver business outcomes. Stay hopeful and build a new world around you.