The rapid, global spread of COVID-19 has unleashed what is possibly the biggest shock to our lives and livelihoods in nearly a century. While COVID-19 is above all a humanitarian crisis, <www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/ our-insights/safeguarding-our-lives-and-our-livelihoods-the-imperative-of-ou r-time> businesses have also suffered as economies skid to a near halt. But already, there are signs of creative business building, as companies respond to the crisis with innovative solutions born of necessity. They are throwing out the old assumptions that govern how they do business, as they rethink how to interact with customers and employees, are required to build more resilient supply chains, and reexamine attitudes toward privacy and data sharing.
That ability to envision new ways of operating will be crucial to weathering the crisis. Those that succeed will set the tone for the <www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-ins ights/beyond-coronavirus-the-path-to-the-next-normal> next normal that will follow and define the subsequent generation of paradigms for consumer and corporate behavior. These will become the operating structure for the next decade. Companies that hope to lead in this world should ask themselves some fundamental questions:
* How will your customer needs change as we head into a post-crisis “new normal”? * How will you create human-like interactions with customers you will never meet? * How will you repair devices you can’t touch or hold? * How will you find your next digital star employee who sits across the globe and is in a different industry? * How will you create resilience in your supply chain, without tying up more capital? * How will you shift your costs and operations to variable structures to handle an increasingly volatile and dynamic world? * How will you bring out digital products in days or weeks, as your competitors are trying to do?

These questions are second nature to disruptive business builders, who are used to overturning assumptions and innovating in the space left when an old assumption is removed. They know that a crisis of this scale brings seismic shifts, changing the expectations for business and creating new opportunities to innovate. They are formulating new solutions to both help resolve the crisis and reimagine their industries in the aftermath. We know there is no going back to the way things were. The goal now is to define the best possible next normal for when the crisis subsides. This article will look at some of the early solutions and outline concrete steps leaders can take to begin their own journeys.