Look beyond the danger and see the opportunity in the crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that affects us all in many ways. It is a healthcare crisis, an economic crisis, as well as a social crisis. By focusing on what we can do to manage the crisis proactively we can ensure future business continuity, writes Tomio Pihkala, executive vice president of KONE’s New Equipment Business.

April 15, 2020

People tend to deal with crises in different ways. Some people are paralyzed by fear. Some remain calm but are suffering inside. Some take a victim mentality and look for excuses. Some are angry and react irrationally.

The current crisis should not be underestimated, but neither can we rest on our laurels. At KONE we want to focus on what we can do, not on what is out of our hands. This way, we will remain operational and be able to manage the crisis proactively.

Acting early, acting fast

I have been a member of KONE’s COVID-19 Business Continuity Task force since mid-January, and I have to say I am really proud of the incredible fighting spirit demonstrated by people at KONE in the midst of this crisis. We realized that what was at first a serious but relatively confined epidemic was driven by an exponential phenomenon: a virus spreading at a tremendous speed. This is why it was important to act fast and to be proactive.

We had a simple strategy from the beginning:

  1. We ensure the safety of our employees and do more than what is expected. We can only recover from this crisis when everyone can resume their work in a safe way
  2. We do everything to keep our delivery chain alive and safe so that we can come out strong when markets recover. We keep serving customers faithfully throughout the crisis
  3. We move sales activities online and become even more proactive towards our customers. We show we care, which customer will remember for a long time
  4. We seek commercial opportunities actively, which can improve the health and well-being of our customers in both the short and the long term

Planning for a new normal

Thanks to great teamwork across KONE, we have been able to recover relatively fast in China, and we have had business continuity readiness in each unit before the crisis hit new countries. We have been able to keep our delivery chain operational, and we have also been recognized by authorities for best practices in ensuring the safety of our employees.

This crisis is a marathon and there are still many obstacles ahead. But we are already actively planning our exit from crisis-mode and our recovery strategies in many countries in order to prepare for a new normal.

I am so amazed by the spirit of people at KONE during this crisis, and it reminds me of something J.F. Kennedy once said: "The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis'. One brush stroke stands for danger, the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity."

The word “crisis” is written in Chinese as follows: 危机 or 危機. By coincidence, the second character also means machine, which is the Finnish meaning of KONE! KONE acts during crisis and sees the opportunities!

Tomio Pihkala
EVP, New Equipment Business

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