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Leading During a Pandemic: Thinking Ahead

How abnormal the "new normal" is

At a time like this, it can be hard to figure out whether to take the long or short view.

As I’ve been reading and writing about associations’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that most organizations have been pulled in two directions. There are the urgent and immediate needs: What to do with the conference next month? How to get staff safe and working remotely? Where are members feeling the hurt right now? But there’s also the question of long-term needs: How will we do strategy going forward? How will we operate a year from now in a radically changed economy?

In both cases, ways of operating that emphasize efficiency will be essential. I say that looking at some of the data points from a survey Association Laboratory conducted late last month on the impact of the pandemic. On the evidence, the new normal will be abnormal: 78 percent of respondents said that their association would face an overall revenue decline and at least 70 percent of respondents said that they will reduce discretionary spending, reduce domestic travel, and tap reserves to cover financial shortfalls.

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