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Business As [Un]usual: Mindsets & frameworks to steer your business through the pandemic & beyond

By Katja Forbes

Business As [Un]usual: Mindsets & frameworks to steer your business through the pandemic & beyond

Covid-19 showed us how vulnerable we are. We are affected at all levels of our lives: Healthwise, social and, above all, economical. The economic effects in particular have hit us hard —we were not prepared. 

Some companies are little affected, as they serve urgent needs in the crisis, such as Amazon, Netflix or gaming companies. Others are losing business massively because their offer is not in demand during the crisis, e.g. Lufthansa and exhibition providers. The most common reasons we’re seeing are:

  • Reliance on a traditional business paradigm
  • Lack of innovative (digital) technology
  • Broken global value chain
  • Change in consumer behaviour and needs 

Lockdown hits traditional businesses hard. The traditional business paradigm supports profit, performance, being better and competition. It’s a lonely fight using linear thinking. It’s not driven by purpose, belonging or co-operation which underpin more evolutionary businesses.

There will be no back to normal.

When we restart our economy, it will happen under conditions that did not exist before lockdown. This worldwide experience has changed our behaviour and shifted the values. This value shift will lead to a long lasting renewal.  We need the ability to manage the complexity of our world and adapt quickly to new situations. Traditional business models need to be challenged and adjusted to be more resilient and adaptable.

The three most important action steps:

  • Quick feasible solutions for the current situation
  • Approaches for the time directly after the lockdown
  • Strategies to be better prepared for a crisis in the future

Disruption needs action in the short, mid and long term.

We have to adapt our businesses in the short term in order to overcome the current crisis well. How might we reAct to changing processes and needs as quickly as possible? We should prepare the time after the shutdown to take advantage of medium-term opportunities.  How might we reSpond to the special requirements as the pandemic progresses? We need to develop strategies and concrete activities to make our businesses more resilient in the long term. How might we reThink our strategies to answer the different types of crisis in our business models?

Short term – ReAct

Action: Evaluate your business model in the context of lockdown to identify concrete short term actions.


  1. Record all relevant aspects of your business, e.g. needs of clients, employees, stake- and shareholders; map your value chain in detail
  2. Understand how these 
aspects change by the lockdown, identify challenges and quick wins; create a roadmap to bring quick 
wins to life
  3. Validate your challenges, identify and describe the three most promising (mid term) opportunities, create a value proposition for each

Medium term - ReSpond

Action: Validate one of your mid term opportunities, develop a value proposition and a first product/service concept.


  1. Research: Deepen your knowledge of lockdown impact
  2. Reflect your opportunity from relevant stakeholder perspectives and refine your value proposition
  3. Ideate and design up to 
three solutions
  4. Develop prototypes and test material to validate your value proposition and ideas
  5. Test and learn, select and finalise value proposition and idea
  6. Develop the business model

Long term post-pandemic – ReThink

Action: Understand how to develop your business model crisis-proof and more resilient in the long term.


  1. Trend research with a special crisis lens: Understand the impact of social, political, economic, technical trends
  2. Create up to four future scenarios for your company, department or product
  3. Map your current business model within these scenarios
  4. Identify necessary changes 
and possible new opportunities
  5. Select and describe the most promising ones
  6. Develop a road map to realise them

Looking forward

You can use this time to move towards a more resilient, evolutionary business paradigm. Focus on collaboration, co-operation, network thinking and a clear sense of purpose to ensure you can adapt to crisis instead of being overwhelmed.

Contact for our beta Crisis Proof Business canvas.

By Katja ForbesBarbara Posern

About the author

Katja Forbes is an Australian pioneer in the field of experience design and all of its components – research, emerging technology as well as service design, customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX). She is the Managing Director of Designit, Australia & New Zealand, a global, strategic design firm who work with ambitious brands to create high-impact products, services, systems and spaces – that people love. Katja is proud to be an International Director on the Global Board of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA).

Back in 2014, Katja founded syfte, a specialist business in research and experience design. In late 2018, her business was acquired by the international firm Wipro, and she was announced as ‘Managing Director of Australia & New Zealand’ for Designit, Wipro’s strategic design arm. 

One of Katja’s personal motivations is to inspire other women, especially in her industry, to reach toward their definition of professional success. She is a sought-after keynote speaker for various organisations and associations including Interaction Latin America, Design Up (Bangalore). Women In Design, Leaders in Heels, Women In Commerce, Code like a Girl (Melbourne Knowledge week), Inaugural CMO Conference 2017, Telstra and Macquarie

Bank. Katja was recognised as one of the Top 10 Australian Women Entrepreneurs 2018 by My Entrepreneur Magazine and named one of the 100 Women of Influence by Westpac and the Australian Financial Review in 2016.

Author's Website


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