Now, here, to stay in the same place, you have to run as fast as you can. If you want to get somewhere, you have to run twice as fast.

– Alice in the mirror, Lewis Carroll.

Phase 2 is pressing and our entrepreneurs and managers, after a long lockdown, can neither stop and wait, nor bet on the future, but must act in the awareness that the only key to the relaunch are their own strengths between creativity and determination.

The acceleration that Covid-19 is generating forces even the most reluctant companies to predict their actions differently, since all the considerations that apply today will not be suitable for those of tomorrow. However, the reactions are divided into two different approaches:

The first concerns companies that experience the relaunch simply as an acceleration of what they would have to face within the next 5 years.

The second concerns those who want to anticipate, imagining and proactively anticipating trends to change their business model, which are the ones to which I will dedicate more insights.

Therefore, there is no recipe valid for everyone to navigate the stormy waters that we are facing due to the Covid-19 health emergency, but I can provide some methodological hints and some ideas on the main factors at play on which to make the right reflections for the relaunch.

The 6 verbs of change

Here are the 6 verbs to deal with change trying to face complexity and reduce uncertainty:

  1. Imagine your future
    As always, it is the vision of the future that drives change, and this will be the verb I will focus on in this article.
  2. Planning an efficient and effective path
    It is essential to establish the path that the company will have to take to achieve the desired strategic positioning.
    In particular, it will be necessary to face careful analysis on:
    ● External environment (market, customer, supplier, distribution structure, competition, technological progress, laws and regulations),
    ● Internal environment (internal organization, planning and management control, research and development function, future corporate performance and, corporate risk management).
  3. Make a timely decision
    We take advantage of this period of blocking / reduction of activities to define our strategic lines. This will allow us to have a competitive advantage.
  4. Becoming Smart and Being Agile
    By this I mean having a lean and flexible approach in order to be able to seize every opportunity; We do not expect to have everything under control, but, with due caution, let’s set ourselves the achievement of small steps in a short time.
  5. Investing
    With this I underline the extreme need to have a greater corporate culture and a very strong attention to the management of all company resources, not least the human one. All to encourage continuous change. Environment resources (financial, economic, patrimonial, human resources, etc.).
  6. Being unique
    This is the great strength of Italian companies. While being able to take inspiration from the best practices of others, a personal effort in building your own business model suitable for the specific context in which you compete will be essential.

Imagine your future after Covid-19

The long-term strategic vision is the ability to correctly imagine what will happen in the future to define our strategy and plan our actions.

Now more than ever the scenarios of the future are multiple and uncertainties must be managed by recognizing the most important trends that have the potential to profoundly change the way tomorrow will work and that can impact strongly and quickly.

To do this it is necessary to borrow the structured approach of the Foresight activity, which considers the following three different perspectives:

  1. The first is to detect the peripheral signals and trends (weak signals) triggered by Covid-19 by looking at them through the various PESTLE dimensions: political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, legal and environmental.
  2. The second is to consider the time necessary for the trends identified to show themselves.
  3. The last perspective is related to external forces that can interact on trends and our vision such as that relating to the impacts of emerging technologies, for example:
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Blockchain
    • 3d printing
    • Nanotechnologies 
    • Robotics
    • Biotechnology
    • Augmented reality

Imagining your future: food for thought on emerging trends and post-Coronavirus orientation

I would like to make a first reflection on the “Marshall 2020 Plan” not in the perspective of the solution to the problem, but in the spirit of great relevance that animated it and allowed its realization: the will to act jointly, sharing experiences and technical knowledge, in strategic and scientific fields, forgetting for once the selfishness and secrets of every industry and country.

The President of the European Commission Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen recently stressed that the issue of sustainability was raised to an absolute safety priority, after the viral epidemic exposed the vulnerability of the blockade to global supply chains and reiterated that a circular economy will make us less dependent and increase our resilience.

The pandemic has exalted and highlighted all the bottlenecks and barriers in the global trade in commodities that rage from food to medical supplies. “Investing in large-scale renovations, renewable energy, clean transport, sustainable food and nature restoration will be even more important than before”– said von der Leyen –“This is the lesson we must learn from this crisis”.

Where to direct your gaze: Sustainability and Circularity

One of the desirable cultural changes that will remain at the end of the pandemic will be the attention to responsible innovation in our models of life. New forms of social interaction and production of goods and services based on investments in innovation that can stimulate responsible growth, directly or indirectly linked to the use of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) for a more sustainable development.

The idea that is being consolidated is that the future path of companies in Europe will necessarily have to pass through legislation that will focus its attention and its favors on the circular economy, effectively obliging European companies to be more efficient in the way they resources are managed. And that resilient supply chains can be created, based on diversification.

The widespread opinion in European circles is to direct a large part of this liquidity that in these hours they are deciding to put on the market in pushing European companies to replace polluting infrastructures with clean solutions, help electrify transport and cut fossil fuels.

So we must expect in the near future, European stimulus packages to support new economy to get out of the crisis in a better shape than how we entered it, ready for the future:sustainable, inclusive, competitive and prepared, in fact reversing the crisis into a ‘ opportunity. Below is a list of actions that the EU intends to take even further:

  1. Push on the policy of sustainable products that focuses on the reduction and reuse of materials before their recycling.
  2. A European legislation that will set minimum requirements to prevent the placing on the EU market of products harmful to the environment.
  3. The so-called “Extented Producer Responsibility – EPR” legislation will be introduced
  4. An action to counteract the false green labels.
  5. A propulsive action that will finance and facilitate the so-called “reusable or recyclable” packaging
  6. The creation of new business models based on the leasing of goods and services will be encouraged by discouraging consumption patterns from single-use or limited-use products.
  7. Investments in the digital sector that focuses on sustainability and green growth will be intensified. Digitization will offer new opportunities for:
    • Monitor air and water pollution
    • Monitor and optimize the way energy and natural resources are consumed.
    • All recycling systems will be encouraged which will allow for the regeneration of telephone and electrical products, for example

7 design blocks will be identified:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energies
  • Smart and clean mobility
  • Circular economy
  • Smart infrastructures and cross-connections
  • Bioeconomy
  • Carbon storage

The good stuff The EU will help business investments to become world leaders in clean technologies and products. It goes without saying that those who do not adapt will be cut off not only from financing, but from the possibility of being able to operate and sell in the Single European market.

What better opportunity for Italian companies now in difficulty and more stressed by the blocking of activities following the pandemic situation, to return to having a regenerated long-term strategic vision?

Finally, in your reflections do not forget the new watchwords:

  • Digital
  • Disruptive
  • Disintermediation
  • Innovation and Innovability
  • No Legacy
  • Sustainable