Prevailing in the Age of Permacrisis | Inquirer Business

Prevailing in the Age of Permacrisis

/ 02:05 AM April 10, 2023

In this world marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, being plagued by all kinds of crises is a never-ending cycle. The sense of crisis is all pervasive until today. COVID-19, inflation, Russia-Ukraine war, Silicon Valley Bank collapse, Mindoro oil spill, disinformation, to name a few; these events affirm that we are in a state of permacrisis—a time of intense danger where difficult decisions must be made.

What is a permacrisis? A portmanteau of “permanent” and “crisis,” Collins Dictionary defines permacrisis as an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events. This is something that more people resonate with daily, capturing everyone’s feelings the past few years.

Crises are inevitable; they will come for every organization at one time or another. The bigger question is how an organization responds. Does it fall apart from indecision and infighting, or does it succeed with determination to do what it takes to get through it? As leaders, crisis management will be critical to thrive in turbulent times.


The recurring problem

In the wake of any crises, leaders tend to easily fall into cycles of panic and neglect. former head of World Bank Jim Yong Kim explains that we panic when the unexpected happens, but as soon as it’s over, we go back to normal and forget about the risks.


With countless outside forces that can impede one’s thinking, people use many shortcut approaches trying to resolve a vague outcome. Others are too reactive to change with too little preparation and training for worst-case scenarios. Lack of action can blindside strategic direction. When there is no ready solution, feeling immobilized from a crisis’ sheer scale and complexity leaves leaders taken aback.

Crises are no longer just problems, they are an indelible reality and these points are emblematic of a failing crisis management structure.

Navigating through a permacrisis

It pays to be prepared for any crisis that can lurk anytime. Organizations must transform an outdated crisis management model and implement forward-thinking, proactive processes and controls. Moreover, leaders must take the reins in a long-term view of resilience and build robust capabilities and future-proofed preparedness.

In my opinion, first we need to rewrite the past principle for management success in the most coherent way. Traditional businesses have been running entirely on a preordained Just-in-Time resource management and fulfillment almost without any reserve and wastage in the name of competition and profitability. A revitalized perspective will enable clear solutions and resources to ensure business continuity.

Second is being ready to anticipate when a crisis would happen and a solution would be available. In our highly connected world, the breakout of crises will not happen in isolation but rather in torrential thunders. The ability to anticipate such deadly storms requires not just a simple weather forecast, but a fully progressive and transposing satellite lens to see the crisis from an overstretched macro and micro standpoint.

Third is to carefully assess and experiment with the remedy mix in a recursive manner until a reasonable solution is achieved. Lastly, we must strengthen people management to focus on genuine equity and solidarity by formulating and sharing the solution especially to those in greater need. This is probably the biggest learning we can draw from the recent pandemic.


How to respond and better manage a permacrisis

The compounding effects of a permacrisis can paralyze an organization and take a toll on performance and overall morale. Here are some practices that you can apply to help respond and better manage any crisis:Restore & Rebuild an Unbridled Collaboration

Tear down the wall of self-preservation and unmerited competition for undue business advantage. Rising above the challenge is not just an individual undertaking but a collaborative endeavor being able —to share what we can do for the greater good.

Learn & Relearn the real survival skills

Go beyond the basic necessities of life and learn the real survival skills. Live with less and less. Nurture a strong and tough mind with grit and resilience. Prioritize well-being and mental health. Take risks and learn to expose oneself to failure, bounce back, and be more prepared in any unforeseen circumstances.

Disaster Readiness & Emergency Preparedness

We must apply the 4Rs: reduction, readiness, response, and recovery in a business and social management angle. Proper training is critical to recalibrate viewpoints, continuously improve, and manage crises with process and strategy rather than relying on emotions.

Prioritize honest and truthful information & communication

There’s a need to put a premium on clarity, be succinct with key information, and communicate effectively before acting. Apply this simple framework: Be first, be right, be credible, express empathy, promote action, and show respect. In this way, we can have a real and measurable effect on the community’s well-being by what, when, and how we communicate.

Create a resilient plan of response for the future

It’s important to capture all experiences and learnings from a current crisis to create a foolproof plan for an impending crisis. All stakeholders must sustain a strong partnership, build each other up, and create a meaningful purpose to move forward.

So is there a way out of a permacrisis? Probably not, as there will always be the risk of another crisis at any time. On the other hand, there may be a way out if leadership focuses on driving long-term vision. Being accountable and making necessary decisions and actions to meet stakeholder needs are starting points towards adaptability.

Leaders can apply a balanced approach for growth and crisis “over preparedness.” There is no template of readiness and preparedness to fully predict, prevent, respond, and recover from a crisis.

At the end of the day, we can only do so much on things that we cannot control. As long as we face challenges together, develop an agile and growth mindset, and advocate common identity, we are likely more motivated to tread through uncharted waters and tackle any crisis head-on. —CONTRIBUTED INQ

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The author is executive director of human capital solutions company Viventis Search Asia

TAGS: Business

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