Learning the lessons

With the UK government’s five tests for easing lockdown having been met, June will be a busy month for reopenings with many schools and nurseries already open and non-essential retail businesses due to reopen on 15 June.

Listening to a CBI webinar earlier in the week, however, it is clear that risk assessments remain a challenge. Test and trace is confidence building, but there is a real concern about what will happen if an employee or employees test positive. Concerns about liability, the 14-day quarantine period and social distancing also remain, particularly as moving the two-metre rule to one-metre would be transformational for the hospitality and creative industries, not to mention education. Nevertheless, we are where we are, and boards and management teams continue the challenging task of steering their organisations through a time of unprecedented difficulty.

As pressurised as it might be to run a business and any other type of organisation right now, Tony Danker, CEO of Be the Business, one of the webinar speakers, believes that the current crisis provides a unique window to capture innovation. While recognising that cash restraints may make this a difficult time to introduce innovation, technology and efficiency, he feels that businesses should be looking at this as a platform for recovery.

Be the Business has identified four types of business during the current crisis: hibernators, survivors, pivoters and thrivers. I like to feel that we fall into one of the latter two camps. We took the decision not to wait until the end of the crisis before looking at the lessons learned and have used this time as an opportunity to review what has worked well for our members, students, colleagues and other key stakeholders. We have also used the time to accelerate a number of planned changes and are pressing ahead with our digital-first approach. We moved swiftly to online delivery of training and events and are migrating our examinations online much quicker than initially planned.

Taking the time to learn from the crisis is simply good governance. It is something that the numerous Select Committees which have been formed to consider the country’s response to COVID will undoubtedly be focusing on. COVID-19 hasn’t stopped the need for good governance. If anything, it has reinforced its importance. That is why it is so important to capture the lessons learned, and sooner rather than later.

We have a number of webinars to help navigate COVID-19. The next one will take place on 10 June and will consider ‘Emerging best practices: lessons learned from a crisis.’ Register here. Our full webinar programme can be accessed here.

Sara Drake, Chief Executive, The Chartered Governance Institute

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