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Corona Virus and Organizational Change Management

Be it an adaptive or transformational change, business Authors, hitherto the advent of the Corona Virus pandemic, would hardly contemplate natural disasters (force majeure) as a major factor that could warrant an organization to undergo a change process.

For any student in business administration, the major factors responsible for an organizational change management process include amongst others; technological advancement, mergers, on-boarding of new employees etc.

This is further evident even in considering the three major phases listed for an organization to undergo a successful change management process – preparation, implementation and follow through.

From the above three phases, it is conspicuous that management theorists, only considered man-made factors to be responsible for organizational change management, hence paid little or no attention to natural occurrences (force majeure) being a major potential factor to warrant a change in an organization’s approach to doing business.

However, it will not be far-fetched to predict that natural disasters such as the corona virus pandemic and its related kinds will feature prominently in newer editions of management books, being major factors of an organizational change management process.

Without mincing words, the corona virus pandemic, since its outbreak, has disrupted international supply chains, collapsed businesses and change the approach of the world to doing business.

With absolute certainty I could conclude that millions of surviving businesses are currently reviewing their annual budgets forecasts, health policies and general trading activities for the remaining few months of the year 2020, so as to synchronize their forecasts with the current sad realities of this pandemic.

As of September 12, 2020, Worldometer reported a whopping 920, 836 corona virus related deaths, with 28, 724, 187 confirmed cases in 213 countries.

Many experts, including the WHO are already talking about a ‘new normal’. The expectations of many enthusiasts continue to suggest that the term refers to the return to normalcy as the world sees the end of the pandemic. Well, much as I may want to believe that, the term ‘new normal’ may hold a contrary view, which is that the world gears itself up- with new ways of doing things- to live with the virus forever.

If the latter is the case, it is absolutely correct to predict a major transformational change in the world’s approach to doing business, both in the formal and informal sectors of African economies.

In the formal sectors for instance, the following factors are to be anticipated;

(a) A shift from all traditional ‘brick and mortar’ modes of engagements to virtual IT engagements. This is to curb the spread of the virus in human to human transmissions.

(b) A shift from the use of fiat currencies (hard monies) to using FinTech solutions such as mobile monies, as medium of exchange in all small and major financial transactions. This again is to curb the further spread of the virus from person to person exchange of hard currencies.

(c) A shift from traditional saving systems into savings in digital currencies such as block chains and crypto currency, etc.

The above changes would not be different even within the informal sector. The objective here is simple – to reduce human to human contacts to the barest minimum, as the surest measure to curbing the further spread of the virus.

Are there some gainers or losers in this pandemic? Yes!

Why? Because all disasters present ‘opportunities’ as well as ‘threats’ to businesses and individuals.

Who are these potential gainers? I suppose all businesses within the rapidly emerging FinTech and digital value chains would certainly be the biggest winners. Reason? FinTech and/or digital platforms are the surest bets when it comes to reducing human to human contacts.

According to cfo.co.za, Africa especially is currently at the forefront of FinTech, with 57.6% of the world’s 174 million active registered mobile money accounts. In this same report FinTech especially is expected to grow from US$200 to US$3 billion by 2020.

Now, it is important to state that this prediction was made when there was no Covid 19.

It therefore makes economic or financial sense to predict, in the midst of Covid social restrictions and its resultant industry cravings for digitization and information technology, that growth in this sector will even escalate, hence making it all attractive for investors.

Who in this case are the potential losers? Predictably, all players, especially, within the real estate sectors, who are building for mass gathering purposes. The reason is simple – businesses would prefer virtual engagements as opposed to in-person engagements, thereby rendering many plush open office accommodations as mere ‘ghost towns’ at least, for as long as the virus lives with us.