The world has irrevocably changed – Are you ready for whatever comes next?

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by Susan Bouwer, Roland Cavanagh, Rowland Hayler, and edits by Greg Gibbs

“In 40 years in this business, we’ve been hit with wildfires, earthquakes, floods, economic downturns and bugs that threatened to wipe out the vineyards. This feels like getting hit by all those things at the same time,”

Napa Valley’s Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards to Wine Spectator.

An Order of Magnitude

The two most globally impactful crises in the 21st century until now were 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. Within moments, the events of 9/11 caused the abrupt shutdown of travel, devastated airlines, and hastened a drastic change in our airport experience.  The recession of 2008 required dramatic shifts in the ways that organizations conduct business.  On reflection, these events were a precursor to what we’re experiencing today. People and organizations had to stop and consider how they were going to stay afloat and how they present themselves. Emerging from those crises, the leaders who discovered a new way to meet their clients’ needs are the ones who survived – even thrived.

These unprecedented times require everyone to critically re-evaluate how they engage. Many of the customs, processes, and reference points that we have previously used are being profoundly and irrevocably changed.

This COVID-19 pandemic is an order of magnitude worse than anything we’ve seen before. It’s time to Re-Vision our future.


Two men learning new ways to engage

Recently our Advisors interviewed past clients to find out how they were feeling, what their biggest challenges are, and how they feel that their organizations will weather the storm. While the overarching theme was uncertainty, the biggest question was about how to preserve cash and make sure there is enough money to provide basic services. However, there was also a great deal of optimism.

The Key Responses:

Pain Points:

  • Concern for the slump in activity/sales. Do we need to ride it out or change our plan?
  • Strong desire for a crystal ball…
  • Uncertainty surrounding mixed/unclear signals from state and federal leadership.
  • The anticipation of another wave in the fall.
  • Intense worry over furloughed and laid-off employees
  • Companies are currently in survival mode. They’re asking themselves how can we minimize expenditures, find other funding sources, explore government support options. 
  • What’s the re-opening plan? 
  • Understanding the need to be prepared for another shutdown whether its Pandemic related, Public Safety Power Shutoff, Wildfire, or other crisis-related.
  • Vaccines, testing, antibodies, etc…


  • Ecommerce and telemarketing are exploding!
  • Layoffs of expensive people may have a silver lining.
  • The family is healthy.
  • Reduced road traffic…
  • We appreciate personal relationships more than before

Looking forward:

  • Change is an opportunity – keep it moving, not all bad
  • See a shift in the direction of our business
  • Permanent changes in cleaning, employee and customer temperature measurement
  • Reduced traffic and gridlock – businesses are learning how to not have everyone in the office
  • Five-year plan no longer works. If we’re going to have these virus shutdowns, we’re going to need a whole new planning regime that’s much more responsive to the challenges that are caused by these very fast changes. 
  • Ongoing Collaborative decision making, team building understanding who to rely on.
  • Create tools for crisis response: Detailed playbooks should be made to prepare for the next time. These can quickly be dusted off and updated when the next crisis hits.


Fearless Girl Statue with a Mask

In order to prepare to support change in organizations, The Cavanagh Group convened a diverse group of consultants from different disciplines and industries. Over the course of a couple of weeks, we participated in a facilitated series of workshops about the future of work and consulting. Our intention was to anticipate what our clients need now and in the future, and how we could help.  The result is a shift away from localized problem-solving and process improvement to the much broader view of future scenario planning, organizational strategy, and supporting others in re-visioning themselves so that they will emerge from this in a viable position.


a grapevine at budbreak

We also examined the tools that we’re so familiar with facilitating in person, and redesigned them for use in an online environment. It is paramount to us to retain the key interpersonal elements and simultaneous work while maintaining the efficiency, engagement, and impact of our structured facilitated workshops. This means that our engagements for the foreseeable future are designed to bring the best consultants and advisors from all over the world to your organization, without the travel costs…

Moving Forward:

You are going to have some amazing stories to tell about this point in history. Your story should be one of discovery, opportunity, and resilience. We hope your close and extended families are safe and healthy.  We look forward to the time when we can safely meet in person again. Until then, give us a call…let us know how you’re doing.