Moving from COVID-19 crisis leadership to strategic leadership

Want to refocus your roadmap and move faster? Here's how we're reviewing which priorities should be added, accelerated, or reconsidered as we plan for the future
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crisis leadership

Businesses have spent the past few months managing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. It might be tempting to take a breath, relax, and recover after a stressful and trying period, but now isn’t the time for that. 

Instead, organizations should be moving forward and thinking about their next opportunities. They need to refocus their roadmap and move faster. The ones who are first out of the gate will be the ones making a difference. 

That’s the approach we’re taking at ON Semiconductor. We’re beginning to look at what we’ve learned over the past two months, how these discoveries play into our roadmap, and are reviewing which priorities should be added, accelerated, or reconsidered as we plan for the future. 

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Identifying gaps

Prior to the pandemic, we had a strong strategic plan in place, which was briefly put on hold as we adjusted and dealt with the crisis. Now, while the dust has mostly settled, we’re taking time to reflect on what we discovered during those early weeks and are identifying gaps that we need to fill.

We discovered that we need to improve our collaboration tools.

For example, we learned that efficient, remote work is possible. We learned that our network was mostly able to support this well, but there were some weak spots and single points of failure, which we identified that we need to tackle sooner rather than later. 

We discovered that we need to improve our collaboration tools, which includes developing new applications using a light architecture. We also learned that when we sent people home to work remotely, they struggled to access some legacy applications because the bandwidth wasn’t there. Virtualization is another priority that we will fast track to make our remote workers more effective. 

Some of these discoveries were already part of our roadmap: The crisis has just provided an opportunity to drive them forward sooner rather than later. Soon, we’ll cross-reference them against our roadmap to determine what needs to be added, accelerated, or slowed down. We’ll think about which strategic projects we want to carry on with, whether they need to be updated, or whether something else needs to be added to the mix. Ultimately, this will lead to a more refined roadmap that’s similar to what we had before, but with improvements.

From crisis management to strategic leadership

It’s important for IT leaders not to get stuck in crisis mode or rest on your laurels for surviving it. Before you know it, a year will have passed and suddenly your organization is behind. You need to switch quickly from a crisis manager to a strategic leader. While you’ll still need a laser focus on supporting the day to day, you also need to refocus your efforts on the future and aim to get back to where you were before COVID-19. 

We're focusing on dynamic pricing and margin analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The reason for this is two-fold. While it’s tempting to chase projects that boost business in the short term, ultimately it’s the more long-term, digital transformation projects that will generate revenue. For us, that includes dynamic pricing and margin analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Those were objectives we were working on before the pandemic, which could help drive margin improvement and increase revenue now and into the future.

The second benefit of refocusing quickly is that it boosts morale, gets teams excited, and gives them hope about the future. They’ve been working long hours for weeks. Recovering from this crisis will be a marathon, no doubt, but it shows them that we have an eye toward the future. We know how to provide day-to-day support and we’re doing it. We’ve established a cadence, and we know we can survive.

Applaud yourself and your team for the great work everyone has done, but don’t stop there. Reexamine your priorities, rework your roadmap, and reestablish the momentum you had prior to the crisis. That’s how you’ll emerge from this stronger and with a better plan.

[ Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet. ]

Kevin A. Haskew joined ON Semiconductor in 2011 and is Senior Vice President and CIO, responsible for the company’s worldwide information technology systems. He has built an effective and responsive global IT organization of more than 800 associates. Mr.