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It is incumbent on business leaders to reset their strategies and build resilience as the phases of the COVID-19 pandemic progress, according to Gartner, senior leaders must make strategic decisions that will lead them to a renewed future state, the firm stated.

Gartner refers to “the reset” as three phases that leaders will go through during the pandemic. The duration of each phase varies by country, industry, and enterprise, as well as by business unit, product, or service. As business leaders reset their strategies during the pandemic, the three stages their organizations will experience are: Respond, recover and renew.

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“There’s been a reset of the workforce and work itself, a reset of the employer/employee relationship, and a reset of the business ecosystem,” said Chris Howard, chief of research at Gartner, in a statement. “For most, the business impact of the pandemic has been deeply negative, while positive for some fortunate sectors. The pandemic has wiped away the strategy for some leaders, but they’ve also garnered invaluable experience.”

Howard added that this is the time for the executive team to come together and use those lessons to reconfigure their business and operating models for a new reality.

Gartner suggested the following actions during the three stages:


Immediate actions are focused on keeping people safe and essential business functions operating. This is a relatively short period marked by high effort and potentially chaotic activity. Key activities include:

  • Temporary fixes to stop the bleeding.


This is a more organized/coordinated effort to stabilize operations. This has a medium duration. Key activities include:

  • Create a plan to restore a scalable state.

  • Identify capabilities needed to strengthen, refactor, reopen, rehire, rebudget, and resupply.


Extended period marked by strategic, durable execution across the organization. Key activities include:

  • Learn to conduct operations processes and workflows in new, repeatable, and scalable ways.

  • Use lessons learned and emergent patterns from prior phases to coalesce around a new foundation and way forward.

These phases are not sequential and can overlap, Howard said. During highly disruptive times, it is possible to think about the renewal phase, even while grappling with the triage response and recovery, he said. In fact, for executive leaders, it’s not just possible—it’s essential, he said.

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Successful resets also build organizational resilience. As organizations weed out weaknesses and amplify strengths in their business and operating models, they will be better positioned to weather the next disruption, according to Gartner.

“In the absence of a vaccine or cure for COVID-19, any rebound in business activity could easily be followed by another round of response, recover, renew, so the imperative is to absorb lessons learned quickly and build sustainable changes into business and operating models,” Howard said.

Create a resilient business model

Business leaders must first determine exactly where and how the crisis has stretched and broken their existing models, and where the risks and opportunities lie as a result. “Senior and functional leaders must collaborate around an agile, options-based scenario-planning protocol they can use to identify significant uncertainties and evaluate them in terms of their importance to the near and long-term future of the enterprise,” the firm stated.

In the Renew phase, leaders must take the opportunity to reset or rebuild their business models and operations for a new reality. Gartner has outlined the plausible post-pandemic pathways as: Rescale, reinvent, return, reduce, and retire.

For some, the pandemic has stressed business and operating models to the point of breaking. As a result, organizations will reduce or retire some functions permanently, such as moving some business capabilities to a SaaS model, for example, or removing a product or service entirely. “In some cases, retirement is long overdue,” Howard said.

“Others could reinvent themselves by refocusing their capacity. Think of government service centers that have been forced to offer their services remotely,” he said. “They may be able to retire some of their physical centers and instead focus on their newfound digital capabilities.”

Others, such as digitized parts of an organization, might rescale permanently, he added.

Additional information is available in Gartner’s Reset your business strategy section.