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Innovation, Disruption, Innovation

Pictured above: Garth Brooks in concert, June 27, 2020. Yep, I went! Thanks to my brother, who tipped me off to get tickets before they sold out. Ironically, they sold out in his area before he could get any. I owe you, bro! More to the point - a sold-out concert during COVID lockdown? How is that possible or even allowed?

Innovation, Disruption, Innovation

Encore Live presented Garth Brooks: A Drive-In Concert Experience by simultaneously delivering a filmed Concert to Drive-In theaters across the country. Drive-ins were struggling last year, and are now experiencing a boom for moviegoers and now concert-goers, while concert venues and large theaters are experiencing a downturn.

Drive-In Theaters started as an innovation in Mexico in 1915 (Theatre de Guadalupe opened in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on April 23, 1915) and steadily grew in popularity through the 1960s until another innovation, the television, and subsequent innovations took over market share. Now, some 70 years later, Drive-In’s are experiencing an upsurge. While it is too soon to determine the staying power, the power of people to adapt is evident.

Drive-Ins innovated to support people who like to watch movies from their cars (who knew?), modern day heroes took this dying medium and breathed new life into them creating a cohesive physical and digital connection. Innovate, Disrupt and Innovate again.

Poor Strategy and Tactics Equates to Poor Response

Many businesses are experiencing a complete extended business interruption due to changes in consumer desire or behavior, and as such, need to rethink how they deliver services - if they can at all.

Employees of these companies are sharing in the downturn with cuts in hours, wages, or in being laid off. Over 40 Million people are unemployed - this number does not include those who paid just enough that they can’t file for unemployment, those who have given up trying to file, and the many who have had pay cuts or are under-employed. How likely will people want to hire into or enter long term business contracts with companies forced to lay people off?

“Thanks to a Garth Brooks exclusive announcement on Good Morning America on June 11, Encore Live racked up over 1 BILLION engagements (vs. impressions) through the simultaneous air date of June 27, 2020.” - EncoreLive

Surprise! You're On Stage Now!

Some businesses may have had the commensurate infrastructure and business essentials for strong business continuity planning but didn’t necessarily have a need for an extensive BCP for their supply chain to the consumer. However because of the pandemic they suddenly found themselves as an essential service and their supply chains had to quickly adapt.

Shopping services such as InstaCart is one such service that went from being in a convince service to an essential server, experiencing a 500% increase in volume nearly overnight. They had to expand the capacities critical to their lines of operation, increase roles, add more people to their organization, and do it all remotely.

“Over the past three years, Instacart’s share of online grocery sales has jumped from 6.6% in 2016 to 14.5% in 2019, ranking it behind only Walmart and Amazon in the category.” - Digital Commerce 360

The Business Continuity Plan needs to Adapt as Well

Considering the roles people play may seem a bit strange to consider as a part of business continuity. Still, the very fallout of the lockdowns, politics, and societal changes are resulting in business changes, changes that could mean the end of some businesses and significant shifts in industries. As stated in previous posts, this is not just a flu virus. It is an infection attacking our previous habits and social concepts how we work and how we live.

If organizations keep or develop the mindset of Innovate, Disrupt and Innovate again they can overcome these challenges. However this change cannot be made without considering the needs of the employee.

Your People at Work

HR Technologist published an article Coronavirus Pandemic: 7 Business Continuity Planning Guidelines for HR on March 13, 2020, just two days after CoVID19 was declared a Global Pandemic outlining the areas to consider as a part of your Business Continuity Plan. The recommendations are as follows with our perspective:

  1. Build Day-to-Day Habits Around Good Hygiene and Limit Travel: Ensure your leadership and your policies strongly convey and enable these habits in action and not just words. Walk the Walk!

  2. Leverage Remote Work to Continue Business as Usual: Find ways to make it work effectively, rather than try to force a premature “return to business as usual”. Reward those who motivate, lead, and innovate.

  3. Reassess If Work Done by Each Team Can Be Paused, Re-located, or Continued: Utilize your experts on strategic management of employees to assess where you can shift, re-organize, and become more innovative where and how work is done.

  4. Model an Approach to Problem Solving: This is the time for your deeds to express the value you have for your people. Include them in these important cultural and organizational shifts.

  5. Communication Must be Swift, Clear, and Supportive: Don’t make the mistake of producing confusing double talk or worse outright rhetoric. Allowing employees to stay at home without pay is not “a new benefit offering,” neither is forestalling raises or holding back commissions, employees remember and see through this. Many more understand the pressures of staying in business during these times, yet they will remember you for demonstrating balance for their needs as well.

  6. Make it Easy for Employees to Ask Questions via an Open-Door Policy: Be Honest, Open, and Contestable, invite dialog and innovation. The greatest ideas and innovations are in the minds of your employees. Your job is to seek them out.

  7. CHROs Must Provide Meaningful Input for Business Continuity Planning: Operations, Risk Management, the C-Suite including the CHRO’s office among others all need to pull together and work cooperatively to get through this pandemic, it is not over yet and will not be over soon, don’t wait for problems to erupt.

Clear and Contestable Communication

A good example of many of these principles in action is Morneau Shepell’s “A summary of Morneau Shepell’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for COVID-19”. Morneau Shepell is a consulting firm for benefits, employee assistance programs, pensions, productivity solutions, and workplace health management. Morneau Shepell’s plan has the following qualities:

  • It is transparent to everyone, giving current and prospective clients, employees, and business partners observability and contest-ability.

  • It has a point of view that is clear, concise, and articulate. It does not mince words or try to use ambiguity as a bargaining chip.

  • It has historical context with links to previous iterations, this removes debates about what the current and past practices were on specific dates.

  • It provides links to additional information and resources for people to utilize.

  • It invites questions for specific areas not addressed.

And most importantly,

  • The messaging in the document is people-focused and shows a value for the needs of their people.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”. - Sun Tzu The Art of War

The joy and enthusiasm of every band member, along with Garth Brooks, was undeniable. They were in the zone doing what they love, delivering it in a new, innovative way. The experience was real and honest. The local people who operate the drive-in were happy and excited to be part of the experience. All of the hard-working people who marketed, produced, and delivered that experience delivered with a high degree of technical and artistic proficiency. All of these various parties innovated with new Strategies and Tactics to raise the bar.

What changes will your organization need to consider and implement to stay abreast of the social changes from this pandemic to maintain a viable Business Continuity Plan? How will you communicate these transparently and openly? How well are you able to associate the interactive impacts your BCP plan within your organization? Are your methods effective, and do your people have faith in them? Perhaps it is now time to take a closer look at how your data is working to keep your business stronger.


Jim Szczygiel has been working as an Information Technologist since the early nineties. Most recently Jim has held roles as a consultant, product manager, data analyst, sales, and solutions architect along with working with agile and extreme programming teams. Jim has provided services in hundreds of different fortune 500 clients in the sectors of; Chemical and Natural Resources, Finance, Insurance, and Manufacturing. Read More


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