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From Good to Great during Covid-19

LSCA Business Board Vice-Chair Anzo Francis looks at how a business can grow from good to great during the Covid-19 crisis.

Anzo Francis

June 2020

Confront brutal facts

The organisations which successfully overcome the challenge of COVID-19 will be confident, bold and able to confront the brutal facts of COVID-19 disruption. Organisations will have a business continuity or disaster recovery plan to face times of crisis. They will pull together a cross-functional team to manage the crisis response, gather data, process data, make decisions, communicate and act.

Expertprogrammanagement.com explains the benefits of confronting brutal facts as follows:

  • The organization becomes more resilient.
  • People become excited about the chance to take on a challenge that seems impossible.
  • It can create duality. One the one hand people accept the brutal facts. On the other, they maintain the faith that the company will ultimately be successful. Even if it takes many years.
  • It dampens charismatic leaders. The brutal reality is more important than how a leader thinks the market should behave.
  • Leaders will be fact led rather than personality led.
  • It keeps motivation high. The reality is that pretending the realities of the marketplace don’t exist will sap everyone’s motivation. They’ll just be going through the motions.
  • In summary, confronting the brutal facts means its fine to have an ambitious destination in mind, as long as you continually adapt your plan every day as new brutal facts emerge.

Focus like a hedgehog

The organisations that survive the crisis best will continue to seek new business opportunities and achieve their purpose in new ways for the customers that they serve. They will seek new markets, be innovative and create new services. They will have invested in technology, cloud operations and remote working from anywhere. These organisations will be firm and passionate about what drives their economic engine to ensure success. This is recognised in Jim Collins’ Good to Great Hedgehog concept:

'A fox is a very clever creature. It sees the world in all its complexity and can pursue many goals at once. A hedgehog is a much simpler creature. It doesn’t get bogged down by all the complexity. It’s really only able to do one thing well – curl up into a ball to protect itself. Hedgehogs are not capable of seeing complexity. All they see is a single goal and they execute to achieve that goal.

Good to Great companies behave in a similar way to a hedgehog. They stick to doing what they’re best at and avoid getting distracted. It’s incredibly easy to get distracted, with even great companies having to fight to stop this from happening.'

Companies can find their inner hedgehog from three questions:

  • What do you feel most passionate about?
  • What can you be best in the world at?
  • What drives your economic engine?


The successful organisation will be a disciplined organisation.  Its staff team will be well led, self-motivated, diverse and collaborative. It will be focused on the corporate purpose, the communities it serves, managing risk and building its financial strength and resilience. It will continuously gather and process data and intelligence, making timely decisions and taking prompt action. It will be agile and able to adapt to changing circumstances.

Expertprogrammanagement.com summarises the importance of discipline as follows:

To go from a good company to a great company you need disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action:

  • Disciplined people: means getting the right people and keeping them focused on excellence.
  • Disciplined thought: means being honest about the facts and avoid getting side-tracked.
  • Disciplined action: means understanding what is important to achieve and what isn’t.

Anzo Francis is vice chair of the LSCA Business Board and director of finance of WSUP (www.wsup.com) which develops innovative urban water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services at scale for low income communities in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Uganda

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