Developing a comprehensive business response in complex situations such as COVID-19 requires answering questions across 4 dimensions: Financial, Strategic, Organisational, Operational.
In most cases for our industry’s sports leaders the immediate focus of action will be financial and operational but it is equally important to plan for a post-crisis future, realign or redesign strategy, ensure the ongoing well-being of all employees and be prepared for a smooth return to business.
Leaders need to address financial concerns from a cost management and revenue maintenance perspective. The aim is to ensure business continuity, support long-term stability, maintain relationships and engagement with commercial partners such as sponsors and broadcasters, and support vulnerable entities. Robust financial planning backed by fact-based analysis will also be integral to making the case for eligibility for government aid and form the basis for evaluating financial restructuring options.
As the situation eases, strategic considerations around protecting the core and exploring new opportunities will come into play. For sports organizations, this would include: developing policy changes around health and safety; ensuring continued competitiveness of athletes and teams; ensuring opportunities in women’s sports and grassroots are still pursued; evaluating their approach to digital disruption, esports and direct to consumer offerings; looking at the broader role they can play in delivering improved health outcomes as well as demonstrating the larger and increased role of sports and physical activity in society.
Keeping teams healthy, busy, engaged and productive should always be a major priority. This is even more pertinent as we enter a new era where remote working becomes more prevalent and the way we operate changes significantly. It will lead to the need for new skills, behaviours and redeployment. There could also be a necessity to introduce significant policy changes and ensure greater transparency and connectivity within organisations and teams.
Maintaining or even improving operational excellence and the ability to effectively retain and engage customers will be a key determinant of success both in the current situation and in the future for sports leaders. Operational excellence will include the ability to work together with other partners, stakeholders and suppliers to create the right conditions for improved efficiency and effectiveness, e.g. maintaining high quality facilities, delivering first-class events, providing integrated modern ticketing and hospitality solutions. This is also an opportunity to drive a complete and radical change towards ensuring loyalty and engagement of customers, with more innovations on programmes and offerings, supported by new technology, tools, systems, data and insights.