Strategic Agility & Decision-Making During Covid-19 Outbreak
Dr Ali Nasser
At the beginning of this year 2020, the news of the spread of a new viral disease that started in the city of Wuhan, China has left the world flabbergasted. It was discovered that the virus belongs to the large family of Coronavirus which was later named COVID-19. Generally, it causes the destruction of the respiratory system due to transmission via droplets and fomites during close, unprotected contact between an infector and infectee. It was not long before COVID-19 passed the Great Wall of China heading to many parts of the world as a result of many people moving freely from one country to another.
Malaysia is not an exception to this threat and danger, where there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases since the beginning of March 2020. However, like other countries, Malaysian government did not stand idly by, but rather took precautionary and proactive measures as what have been recently communicated by the Malaysian Prime Minister. He strictly announced that all schools, universities, and places of worship to shut down and all social events and gatherings like mass prayer and wedding should be postponed.
As for higher institutions, all preventive precautions have been taken by directing the faculties and its affiliated sectors to adhere to the government’s restricted movement order (RMO). Therefore, all staff are required to work from home and some universities opted to run online lectures for the students to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
As we all know, catastrophes often come uninvited, in which this will constantly pose a series of challenges to an organisation’s leadership ability in making quick, accurate and appropriate decisions. This sudden period of time is also seen as a test of the organisation’s strategic agility. Here comes to our mind an important topic which has not received enough attention in most organisations around the world, which is the training on how to deal with sudden, unexpected crises and emergencies. Hence, organisations need to take the necessary measures to limit the spread of this pandemic to help prevent more death and financial loses. These include raising the level of readiness among the employees, members, or beneficiaries of organisations or institutions in facing this kind of situations.
In this case, the quick and flexible handling by university leadership can be perceived as a feature of strategic agility, which is defined as the ability to respond quickly to expected and sudden changes. Other than that, this refers to the ability of making decisions during emergency circumstances. At USIM, we have noticed initiatives carried out by the university and volunteers in helping to ease the university hostel and even those who live outside campus. This certainly reflects a great sense of brotherhood, solidarity and responsibility of university leadership and the employees towards the students.
Dr Ali Nasser is a Senior Lecturer at the Da’wah and Islamic Management Programme, Faculty of Leadership and Management, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)