The good news is that this is not a reinvention of the wheel. It is not about changing the course of your company. It is about how you get there.


Certain characteristics define those organisations which have been able to thrive under challenging circumstances and even to take advantage of the opportunities that a crisis such as COVID-19 also represents:

  1. These organisations apply an adaptive and accelerated approach where strategy and execution are done simultaneously
  2. These organisations have leaders who act as role models and communicate the long-term purpose and direction while they also empower the organisation by allocating decision-making power and responsibility
  3. These organisations master the balance between cutting costs to survive in the short term and investing to grow tomorrow

One example of a company that has worked actively with the above three elements during the COVID-19 crisis is the Danish company Kvik A/S. The company manufactures and sells kitchens and has more than 150 franchise stores throughout Europe and Asia. Kvik A/S is looking into a record year in 2020.


As Jens-Peter Poulsen, Managing Director in Kvik A/S, explains it: “We did not change our overarching strategy because of COVID-19. Instead, we simply made it crystal clear to everyone in the organisation that we had two main priorities: “the health of our people and our customers and the financial health of our store network after COVID-19”. The execution of these priorities was then defined at local level and with incredible success. Communication and empowerment were key to our success. If every decision were to be made at central level, we would have been far too slow in responding to the constantly changing situation during the spring.”


Regardless of the need for taking action quickly and decisively, you need the ability to see through the chaos to have a clear vision for your organisation. You must be able to define and articulate the purpose of your organisation as often as possible by setting it into an everyday context; “Why are we here?” and “Why are we making our customers smile when they work with us?”. You need to trust the people in your organisation to make the right decisions that are aligned with the overall purpose.

Accept that in times of crisis, most organisations need more leadership and less management. Making a successful rebound when a crisis emerges is not a one-person job. It requires that the full potential of the entire organisation is released, which again requires leaders to act as role models and to set a clear direction.

Try out new ideas from people who are not usually invited into the executive forums. Go straight to the source. Encourage frontline sales and support functions to come up with new ideas. Promote engagement across the organisation by allocating decision-making power and responsibility. Communicate that now is not the time for perfect solutions.

It was inspiring to see the motivational force of the burning platform. We accelerated several digitalisation projects and for example rolled out a beta version of a new video meeting platform for stores to engage with customers on. The beta version was by no means perfect, but we did not receive a single complaint. Everyone was fully committed to getting us through this, and everyone was pulling in the same direction,” explains Jens-Peter Poulsen.


Cost cutting can be necessary to survive in the short term. However, you cannot afford to jeopardise the long term. Changed market dynamics often pose new opportunities for growth, which is why investing disproportionately in selected potential growth opportunities is key for the longer term.

Companies that rely solely on cutting the workforce have less chance of achieving breakaway performance after a downturn. The number and quality of new ideas are usually better at companies that stress operational efficiency improvements. Employees at these companies appreciate top management’s commitment to them, and they are more creative in reducing costs as a result.

We combined both offensive and defensive moves, and by being open and transparent about the motivation for these moves, we were able to generate the support we needed from the entire organisation,” concludes Jens-Peter Poulsen.

At the end of the day, your rebound strategy is not about reinventing the wheel. It is about setting a clear direction, constant course correction and continuous communication about both to your entire organisation.


Originally published in Nordic Business Magazine