What can businesses learn from the Royal Marines to build resilience in a pandemic?

t was announced yesterday that areas of the UK, such as London, Essex and York, will be moving to a 'tier two' categorisation as of Saturday in the latest blow of the Coronavirus crisis. Already, Liverpool is classified as 'tier three' - or Very High risk - and Manchester MPs are fighting the same proposed regulations. For thousands of businesses, this marks the beginning of a period filled with more uncertainty, as working from home continues and shops may be forced to shut.

Business leaders have been overcoming continual challenges for seven months, since the lockdown period commenced in March, and for The Future Strategy Club (https://www.futurestrategyclub.co.uk), it is clear that firms need to build resilience into the very core of their business model. The FSC are a lean and transparent agency with the highest-calibre freelancers on their books; including Gareth Tennant - Advisor at the FSC and former Head of Intelligence at the Royal Marines. Gareth has landed his expertise to provide robust advice on how to manage risks in a constantly evolving landscape.

Gareth was a Regular Royal Marine for 11 years, rising to the Head of Intelligence role, and now applies the lessons learned from his military experience to help firms through times of complexity. Now, this knowledge is highly relevant to the most disrupted period in living memory:

"The physical hardship, austere conditions and deafening noise of combat is a long way from the sharp suits and lattes of the City, but there are numerous parallels that the military - in my case, the 14 years serving as a Royal Marines Officer - share with the world of business. I work with many different companies across a range of sectors with ‘The Future Strategy Club’, to cross-pollinate some of the lessons and experiences between these two very worlds.  I’m continually struck by the parallels between the challenges of business with those we faced on combat operations. Perhaps now as the country and, indeed, the world begins to come to terms with the realities of a post-COVID economy, the hard-fought lessons of military operations may be of value; especially for those planning the return to the office, which does present risk in a post-lockdown world.

Businesses need to understand that shocks, in general, happen and not that one particular type of shock may happen. In normal life, it becomes comfortable for leaders to use data to plan, but in complexity, no one can be omnipotent about what will happen. I would suggest looking at the scope of possibility and from there devising a range of best case to worst case scenarios and plan for these. This, in turn, will create the confidence for teams to talk about what they would do in these hypothetical situations, without having to deal with the baggage and stress that would come from actually being in these situations. If you have some ideas on what you would do, it becomes easier to deal with change and to compartmentalise when change inevitably comes to fruition.

My key piece of advice is that leaders should remember not to let their guard down and return to business as usual. Instead, think about the range of potential risks and build up the muscle memory to adapt to potential changes."

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