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1. (Advance) planning: short- & long-term strategies

Return to July 2020 Update

Length: 8 min read; 1797 words. Includes the following three subcategories:

Note: The following paragraphs summarize the category of (Advance) planning: short- & long-term strategies observed in June. More information about the specific category from June (and previous months) can be found in the downloaded report(s).The number in square brackets (e.g., [30]) refers to a reference where the reader can find more infomation about a specific statement.  The references can be found in the References list below, Systematized References page or in the dowloaded report.

The April report (March 20 – April 20) showed that after the initial shock, all industry’s institutions, stakeholders and trades established best practices for early response; health and safety, maintain open communication and remain agile [275][276][277][278][279]. We saw short-term quick planning and business continuity plans (BCP) strategies developments; with global companies having the advantage to see the effects and measures taken in different countries and prepare/ adjust their BCPs in the US [277][278][280][281]. This crisis has taught every company to be prepared and highlighted the importance of using this situation as an opportunity to progress. The second month into the outbreak (April 21 – May 25) was characterized with a quadrupled interest in advance planning and short- and long-term strategies than in the first month and we organized the strategic planning information into three subcategories.

The interest in short- & long-term strategies further increased in June. This category has become the most popular topic, identified in 45.5% of the selected references. In line with our expectations this category started decreasing its presence in July (27.6%) after the continuous increase over the previous three months; from 10% in April, 31.8% in May to the highest category representation of 45.5% in June. This category remains among the 4 most discussed topics, but the decrease of interest after 4 months is expected; if companies have not considered or implemented short- and long-term strategies in the first three months of the outbreak than there is a lesser chance that they will do so later. Could businesses survive and thrive without advance planning?

1.a) Businesses (economy sectors) / projects

Resilience may be the most important word of 2020.[154] Construction’s Lessons for Coronavirus Business Recovery [220]: 1) Learn from the past (Firms that failed to take advantage of the opportunity to transform during the recession 2008-11 could be paying a higher price now; many won’t survive this latest blow.); 2) Think vertically (Companies that elect to thrive rather than merely survive disruption often capitalize on opportunities for growth. There will be an increase in mergers and acquisitions, as vertical integration leads to more control and better margins.); 3) Take creative license with aspiration (COVID-19 has accelerated the use of technologies that were already enabling firms in an array of industries to innovate and reimagine the way they use technology and data.); 4) Make some temporary changes permanent (such as remote work; creating more flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of productivity loss; take advantage of technology; you’ll be able to attract and retain a stronger, more interesting, and more diverse workforce); 5) Embrace the growing pains.[220]

Trust is the new currency.”[213] Organizations with the highest level of trust report millions of dollars’ worth of benefits: lower voluntary turnover that would otherwise be spent on replacing staff (saving up to $750,000); fewer missed schedules, resulting in gains of up to $4 million a year; higher levels of repeat business, driving gross margins 2% - 7% higher. Organizations with the highest levels of internal trust are transparent; people are twice as likely to be explicit about their requests, compared to “above average” firms; create a secure environment (the majority of high trust firms would retain all staff even without a confirmed pipeline of work (51%)); develop their employees (managers are twice as likely to share feedback (48% vs. 22% at “above average” firms). [213]

Global social justice movement in May/ June has brought up the benefits of Impact Sourcing. It is a business practice where companies prioritize suppliers that intentionally hire and provide career development opportunities to people who otherwise have limited prospects for formal employment. [221] It is considered as the next IPD. [222][223]Building is not limited to buildings but to companies, communities, collaboration. The companies that implemented Impact Sourcing are more profitable, attract better employees, who are more engaged and motivated, they are able to see white space business opportunities not seen by their competitions; and they attract capital and investment whose values are aligned with theirs as well. Purpose-driven companies outperform their competition by 175% in terms of growth metrics as well. Business case is also aligned with that societal shift – we are entering the age of purpose – business needs to reboot what it stands for – to keep all the good things about business (innovation, agility, ability to take risks) but now do it in a way that contributes not detriment to society (climate change, inequality) but prosperous and fair for everybody.” [222][223][221]

The US e-commerce just had a 10-year growth in three months. There is a tremendous business opportunity: 75% of US consumers have tried different stores, websites, or brands during COVID-19 crisis; 60% of these consumers expect to integrate the new brands and stores in their post-COVID-19 lives.” [188] To pivot businesses, create value and redesign consumer experiences AEC practitioners should reach toward three design thinking tools: 1) Determine the values you want to transmit; 2) Develop your journey map; 3) Use a design-thinking (human centered design) approach to “Fill the pits. Build the peaks.” [282]

1.b) Individuals

Importance of leadership continues to be discussed in July. “Leadership is accepting responsibility to enable others to achieve their purpose at the time of uncertainty.” – Prof Marshall Ganz, Harvard University. [40] “If a critical mass of CEOs embraces and extends what they have learned during the pandemic, this CEO moment could become a CEO movement—one that is profoundly positive for the achievement of corporate, human, and societal potential. Strategies: 1) Aspire 10x higher: think bigger and faster, and zero-base how work gets done (including personal time and energy management, and organizational adjustments); 2) Elevate ‘to be’ to the same level as ‘to do’: deliberately choose ‘how I show up’(“The people you are leading have big expectations of you. They want you to be perfect and often forget that you are human. But the more human you are with them, the more trust and empathy they lend to you.” Alain Bejjani, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim); and recalibrate how I expect leaders and employees to show up); 3) Fully embrace stakeholder capitalism: decide what you really believe and once you have made the decision, make it happen; 4) Harness the real power of peer networks: invest further in building relationships with other CEOs and leverage networks to tackle a broad set of issues. [283]

“Talent is crucial for performance.”[284] “Getting “underneath the iceberg” of what motivates individuals to act is crucial to managing the COVID-19 crisis. Research has shown that one of the primary blocks to sustainable change can be traced to limiting mindsets, which fall into the categories of “I am not allowed,” “I can’t,” or “I won’t.” Mindsets underlie behaviors, which lead to outcomes. The influence model can guide organizations through comprehensive transformations by addressing those underlying mindsets. It consists of four elements that work best together: understanding and conviction, reinforcement with formal mechanisms, confidence and skill building, and role modeling.” [285]

Each individual should implement everyday strategies to help fight climate change; such as energy savings, food (“one day per week don’t eat meat”), clothing (do you need so many clothes? - textile industry contributes 8-10% to global GHG emissions), and waste management. [185]

In July the internet continues to be overwhelmed with how-to strategies for individuals such as how to find focus while working from home [286]; how to disagree with someone more powerful than you [287]; “money really can buy happiness and recessions can take it away” [288]; how to invest in index funds to build long-term wealth [289]; and what skills to work on (future job market: 10 most in-demand jobs for the next decade: customer-service specialist, sales-development representative, it support/help desk technician, digital marketer, project manager, graphic designer, financial analyst, data analyst, network administrator, software developer) [290].

Lack of self-awareness is often the beginning of our downfall or failure as a leader. Developing self-awareness will make you more introspective and confident with yourself leading you to new insights, better decision-making and self-management. Becoming aware of your own emotions, thoughts and feeling will enhance your emotional intelligence with others. Developing self-awareness means knowing your BETA: Body Sensations, Emotion, Thoughts, Action Impulse.” [40]

1.c) Sustainability; Green future – opportunity to address climate change

Current climate change disasters (such as Siberian Arctic on fire [179] and Arctic sea ice crashing to an extreme, record low [180]) have brought more focus on climate change and the consequences if we don’t respond adequately (e.g., Flooding from sea level rise could cost our planet $14.2 trillion [181]). Worrisome reports show discrepancies between climate rhetoric and reality such as the decarbonization of world’s 50 most influential power companies [182]. Though some companies like Apple show that sustainability is the best business strategy (Apple's 2030 roadmap to carbon neutrality focuses on product design, supplier base) [183]

Greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions have gone down 8% due to COVID-19. The bad news is that the same happened in 2008/09 crisis and it went high up afterwards – “if we go back to the trajectory after 2009, we have a big problem.” We as a society can address this issue if we all work together: universities and research institutions should be ahead of the game and make a catalyzing effect on the rest of the world. These institutions can play an important role in carbon price/tax before governmental institutions. Also, each individual can contribute (“one day per week don’t eat meat”).

Potential areas we can work on to fight climate change: 1) water supply (e.g., drought resistance agriculture and adaptation to higher temp; 2) management of electricity grid (i.e., during the heat waves the grid will be on immense stress; 3) sea level rise (coastal regions; resilience and multipurpose strategies needed); 4) supply chain (needs reliability and resilience); 5) economics and security implications; 5) clean energy production (such as carbon free hydrogen, nuclear and renewables; as today fossil fuels provide 80% of primary energy). [185]

In the past “increasing investments in energy efficiency has proven a huge creator of new jobs, while generating consumer savings and increasing U.S. competitiveness. A 2016 Council of Economic Advisors report [291] determined that the 2009 stimulus legislation which included $90 billion in clean energy investments and tax incentives “leveraged approximately $150 billion in private and other non-federal capital for clean energy investments.” The study found the 2009 energy stimulus also created 900,000 job-years in clean energy in 2009-2015 alone.

Current stimulus bills should be about green revival. Private sector investment in electric vehicles and other advanced energy production needs large market demand, long-term predictable policy, and manageable risks. Other advanced energy sectors where policies that align technology, markets and finance could drive massive economic benefits while cutting emissions; include long-duration storage for increased clean energy adoption; low-cost small modular nuclear power; carbon-free hydrogen infrastructure for industrial decarbonization; and carbon- dioxide removal and management infrastructure that includes both agricultural and chemical approaches. [186] Sustainability should not take a backseat to COVID-19 challenges. [292]

Previous June Category Summary

References

[40] 3 Strategies to Boost Your Leadership Through Self-Awareness. 2020.

[154] “Supply Chain Dive Trendline on Resilient and sustainable supply chains,” Supply Chain Dive. (accessed Aug. 27, 2020).

[179] “We Regret To Inform You That The Siberian Arctic Is On Fire — Again | IFLScience.” (accessed Aug. 28, 2020).

[180] M. Kaufman, “Why Arctic sea ice just crashed to an extreme, record low,” Mashable. (accessed Aug. 29, 2020).

[181] H. R. CNN, “Flooding from sea level rise could cost our planet $14.2 trillion, study says,” CNN. (accessed Aug. 29, 2020).

[182] S. Patel, “Report: Decarbonization of World’s 50 Most Influential Power Companies Bleak,” POWER Magazine, Jul. 09, 2020. (accessed Aug. 24, 2020).

[183] “Apple’s 2030 roadmap to carbon neutrality focuses on product design, supplier base,” Supply Chain Dive. (accessed Aug. 27, 2020).

[185] “Energy, Climate and Sustainability: The Defining Issue of the 21st Century (12:00 PT).” (accessed Jul. 29, 2020).

[186] D. Gilliland, “A bipartisan energy infrastructure bill is still possible,” TheHill, Jul. 14, 2020. (accessed Jul. 29, 2020).

[188] “The quickening | McKinsey.” (accessed Aug. 18, 2020).

[213] “2020 Industry Report: Trust Matters, The High Cost of Low Trust.” (accessed Aug. 24, 2020).

[220] “Construction’s Lessons for Coronavirus Business Recovery,” Redshift EN, Jul. 02, 2020. (accessed Aug. 28, 2020).

[221] “Home | GISC.” (accessed Jul. 17, 2020).

[222] “2020 Online Salon Series: Innovation on the Horizon- Quang Truong,” website, Jul. 10, 2020. (accessed Jul. 17, 2020).

[223] “CIDCI Online Salon: Impact Sourcing: The Next IPD - Zoom.” (accessed Aug. 31, 2020).

[275] “New York Governor Cuomo Coronavirus News Conference | C-SPAN.org.” (accessed Apr. 16, 2020).

[276] Fieldwire, Is Construction “Essential” in a Pandemic? .

[277] Realcomm, “Real Estate, Coronavirus and Business Continuity Preparation – Part IV.” (accessed Apr. 10, 2020).

[278] “Special Series: 8 CRE Leaders Discuss Business Continuity Planning and Coronavirus.” (accessed Apr. 10, 2020).

[279] “Architect’s Guide to Business Continuity - AIA.” (accessed Apr. 13, 2020).

[280] “COVID-19: Woods Bagot Global Studio Connectivity.” (accessed Apr. 14, 2020).

[281] “Home - Healthpeak.” (accessed Apr. 10, 2020).

[282] Designing Experiences in the Covid Era: 3 Tools to Adapt Your Business. 2020.

[283] “CEO leadership for a new era | McKinsey.” (accessed Aug. 18, 2020).

[284] McKinsey & Co, “HR says talent is crucial for performance—and the pandemic proves it.” (accessed Aug. 18, 2020).

[285] McKinsey & Co, “The long haul: How leaders can shift mindsets and behaviors to reopen safely.” (accessed Aug. 18, 2020).

[286] “Here’s How to Find Your Focus While Working From Home.” (accessed Aug. 28, 2020).

[287] A. Gallo, “How to Disagree with Someone More Powerful than You,” Harvard Business Review, Mar. 17, 2016.

[288] “Money really can buy happiness and recessions can take it away,” The Economist.

[289] T. Loudenback, “How to invest in index funds to build long-term wealth,” Business Insider. (accessed Aug. 29, 2020).

[290] “Post-COVID job market: Microsoft will help you get skills.” (accessed Aug. 28, 2020).

[291] “20160225_cea_final_clean_energy_report.pdf.” Accessed: Aug. 12, 2020. [Online]. Available:

[292] “Will sustainability take a backseat to COVID-19 challenges?,” Supply Chain Dive. (accessed Aug. 26, 2020).

Monthly Summary: 
AEC and Pandemic: Response and Impact - July 2020 Update