The five Rs

#Navigatingthecrisis | Easter 2020

Like all of you, I have several roles in life and I wear different hats in different places. As a family member, I am anxious about this catastrophe and the impact on my life, leisure and my loved ones. People are being to talk about lifting lockdown but this remains a horrible health crisis! Please stay safe!

The me that is a housing association board member / CAB trustee keeps asking the management consultant me:

  • How long will this crisis last?
  • How quickly can we return to normal?
  • Do we need to change our business or service model?

At the moment, none of us know! But that doesn’t mean we should not be more proactive and anticipating more disruption. An economic shock seems likely to follow; experts are arguing whether it is a V or U-shaped recession or a depression. There are possible big changes in social behaviour too: whether work-based culture or changing customer needs especially for the more vulnerable. And given the lack of hardware and the ever-increasing cyber risks, we may end up full circle with another technology challenge!

Resolve | Resilience | Return | Reimagine | Reform

Here at Golden Marzipan where we champion digital transformation, we have adopted and adapted the McKinsey 5R framework to structure our guidance to help boards and leaders try and deal with the complexity of the issues. Our starting point is to break this crisis into more manageable chunks. Each stage may vary based on geography and provider profile. Organisations may find themselves managing more than one stage simultaneously.

Feedback from leaders attending our briefings is that most have overcome the initial challenges of setting up remote working and are now building resilience in their staff, services and supply chains. They welcome the 5R structure and bifocal ability to focus on both the present and future!

If you want to know more, please come along to one of our breakfast forums! You’re very welcome to listen and share your own best practices like others have done.

We are here: resilience

Our GM breakfast briefings and round table discussions have shifted. Week one was about getting the best out of connecting and collaborating remotely! The mood was positive: someone commented that “in two and bit weeks the sector had achieved more than had been achieved in the past ten years in adopting new technology!” Who knew it was so easy?!

This week the mood we had a Jenny Osbourne MBE from Tpas who provided some great insight into how customers / residents / tenants are feeling about the services provided by the housing sector. She observed:

  • Customers appreciate “caring” landlords who are proactively communicating. This will stand them in good stead for the future
  • A shift in resource to contacting customers (particularly the vulnerable)
  • Regular engagement had activities suspended early on but, formal engagement activities are now coming back though digital channels
  • Associations are ringing around as many customers as possible. Some vulnerable customers are asking to be called back regularly.
  • Some increase in digital signage – but this is a good time to invest in innovation (e.g. chatbots implemented in Stockport)
  • Customer champions tend to be highly involved in the communities and so are busy running community activities such as foodbanks

Ready to Return

Some people have started to talk about when lockdown will cease and when we can all return, but return to what? We think it’s premature and resilience cannot just be accepting survival. Your vulnerable customers need as near normal as possible.

Some countries have started the return phase, China for example. We should watch out for Italy and Spain as leading indicators of readiness. We can predict that vulnerable and older persons may face different lockdown conditions and need your support resources the most. Social housing will need to reactivate their repairs supply chain when components, accessories, tools and PPE equipment may be in short supply. Your project management and logistical skill sets will be the most sought after. Maybe your ICT project managers can be diverted for a few weeks?

Reimagination and Reform

But don’t remove those project managers for too long! It’s time for a different mindset on digital adoption and implementation! The crisis has already written the business case for you:

  • agile, flexible and collaborative workspaces (home or hub)
  • accelerated channel shift – managing the routine tasks and activity
  • outbound telephone and video service channels for vulnerable / older tenants

We have seen and heard that executive / board decision making has been accelerated like never before to deal with the initial lockdown challenges / protocols. The Regulator has signalled that it’s value for money constraints are secondary. So alongside your COBRA style working group looking at resilience and return we would also promote a ‘Look Ahead’ group commissioned to reimagine and reform. Let’s ensure we don’t let previous barriers such as bureaucratic procurement, legacy systems, hoarding data and insufficient resources get in the way!

Contact Us

We believe the five ‘R’ stages described here offer leaders a clear path to begin #navigatingthecrisis and beyond. If you would like a copy of our more detailed  briefing pack then contact me at

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