No business or economic crisis is a neatly isolated and contained incident, and this COVID-19 situation is exceptional by any standards. It is wide in both scope and in the levels of uncertainty. The UN trade agency suggests a cost to the global economy approaching $1 trillion, the IMF and OECD have massively downgraded growth estimates and pretty much every country’s own policy makers are looking at what level of recession to tackle, not strategies to avoid one altogether.
All pretty bleak reading right? Well, perhaps reading between the lines gives us more hope. The consulting market – and the wider economy itself – has been bracing for a big impact for some time. In late 2019, before the first coronavirus cases had been reported, more than half of the CEOs surveyed in a PwC report believed the rate of global GDP growth would decline in 2020 and only 27 percent of felt “very confident” in their companies’ growth prospects – a low not seen since 2009. Coronavirus has amplified the situation – no doubt – but it’s at least a little reassuring to know that plans were already in place for tackle a big ‘hit’.
It’s also worthwhile noting that no shockwave to the economic norm in modern history will have as much daily or hourly attention poured over it than this one. Whatever geography, industry or size, every entity has the same common goal; to reduce the impact. It’s also worth remembering that crisis management is part of the job; 7 in 10 leaders have experienced at least one corporate crisis in the last five years.
It may seem slightly crude to suggest at the moment, but the management consulting market is also about as insulated as any market right now. There are and will be tragic consequences for many of course – including the implementation and transformation service providers who rely so much on face-to-face, on-site client interaction, and we have already seen some mid to high level firms having to sadly make redundancies – but consulting by and large exists as a crisis navigation service. It’s a ‘How To…?’ market; how to generate more growth, improve efficiency, cut costs, navigate new situations…it’s all part of the service, and it’s a service that should come to the fore at times like these.
- by Tariq Siraj