March 15, 2020



I am sure you have noticed that the Coronavirus has taken the world by storm. It is disrupting everything from family vacations, to small business operations and world governments.  
In the midst of it all, we are left to navigate it for ourselves, our staff and our clients. We are going to have to make decisions quickly and they will have repercussions.
The Coronavirus pandemic is likely once in a lifetime black swan event, but it won’t be the only one we live through. In my short time in business I have dealt with the crash of 2008, 9/11 and myriad of other smaller challenges.  
There will be a next time and it won’t look exactly like this time, but that doesn’t mean we are operating blind. We can learn from this experience to improve our business’ resilience next time around.  
Let me introduce something I learned from my time in the Army. It is called an After Action Review, AAR. From day one in basic training, the concept of a timely AAR is drilled into you. Every time you are in “action”, real or simulated, the organization takes time to review what happened and what can be learned from it. 
Here are a few key concepts to running an effective AAR for your practice:
EVENTS: Identify what happened.
ACTIONS: What did your team actually do?
DEVIATIONS: How did things unfold differently then you intended?
LESSONS: What did you learn from the overall event and outcome?
RESOURCES: What things or systems do you need to perform better next time?
ACTIONS: What will you do based on what you learned in your AAR?
Shall we walk through an example from our practice for illustration?
EVENTS: We were notified by our B/D that there was some possible secondary exposure to Coronavirus at a recent conference. The markets began to tumble in response to Coronavirus.
ACTIONS: We swiftly had a team conference call and outlined our plan. We cancelled all in person meetings and instituted a work from home strategy. We sent several communications to our clients updating them about Coronavirus and the volatility in the markets. We switched to offering video based meetings immediately. 
DEVIATIONS: The plan worked for the most part. One of the staff members felt very dependent on paper files. The phone system did not allow forwarding and had to be responded to by picking up messages throughout the day.  Our shared drive was not accessible remotely.
LESSONS: Efforts to ensure that everyone is mobile have paid off. Everyone has a laptop and web conferencing technology. Our communication with each other and our clients was pretty smooth and responsive. We need a couple more technology systems to be completely mobile.
RESOURCES: We need to complete the upgrade to our firewall system that will allow us to have remote access to our shared drive. This is not imperative for a short-term emergency, but would be for a longer-term work from home situation. When we move, in the next year, we will upgrade our phone system to allow remote answer and call forwarding to cell phones. We need high-quality printer/scanners at home. 
ACTIONS: We will put a plan in place to finish the firewall project within four weeks. We will research reliable, cost effective printer/scanners and build it into the technology budget. We will have our IT specialist begin looking at phone solutions for our move within a year. 
We can’t control what will happen in the world and when, but we can use each challenge as an opportunity to strengthen our practices. The next big emergency may not be as drastic as the Coronavirus pandemic. Maybe it will just be a big snow storm, but we will be ready!  And we will be even more prepared by taking action on the lessons we learned in our AAR.
Don’t wait until the pandemic is completely in the rear-view mirror to ask these questions. Periodically sit down with your team and hold AARs so that you can really see what is working in real time!
With Purpose,

We would love to hear from you!  What are you learning from the Coronavirus pandemic?  How can you battle harden your business for the next challenge?
Join the conversation in the TIA Mastermind group of Facebook!

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