COVID-19 is turning the world upside-down. Some of the recently furloughed are launching new initiatives, others are hiding under the duvet (both responses are perfectly valid). Some people have arranged their stockpile in alphabetical order, and some have realised that you can’t actually eat toilet roll. 

Many of us will get through this, but what is on the other side is unknowable. Throughout 2019 and early 2020, the business press was full of talk of how innovation was disrupting big business. What they didn’t count on was COVID-19 disrupting everybody. But the bigger picture, that businesses of all sizes need to be more agile to cope with unexpected change, holds true in the current pandemic. Agility, innovation and disruption don’t happen in a vacuum as they all feed off each other, though the reality for many is that without the lifeblood of cash flow, adaptation in an emergency is just not feasible. WHSmith’s, for example, expects April’s revenues to be down 90 percent year on year, while Debenhams is preparing to call in the administrators. Whole industries such as airlines, hotels and hospitality have been put on ice. Look beyond the big names: remember that some 99 percent of British businesses are classed as SMEs and on your state-sanctioned exercise, you’re likely to walk, jog or cycle past any number of shuttered-up businesses that have no idea when they will reopen. 

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