Does your business have a ‘nerve center’? A third do, says McKinsey

Nerve centers are helping businesses manage themselves in the current crisis, and 37% of companies claim to have one.
4 May 2020

Nerve center will be the main reference during a crisis. Source: Pexels

  • McKinsey says a ‘nerve center’ is essential for handling a crisis
  • 44 percent of companies in the UK are confident that nerve centers can bring business continuity and success

The latest survey by McKinsey reveals close to half (42 percent) of companies believe that a commercial nerve center is vital to navigating the coronavirus disruption.

While some have termed the ongoing pandemic a black swan event, many believe the repercussions of the coronavirus spread and its subsequent impact to be molding a new normal in business and society for the years to come. 

Bracing through the turbulence are companies of various sizes and industries, and in response to the challenges, many companies are assembling a cross-functional team of executives to make critical decisions based on readied information from internal and external sources. McKinsey calls these ‘nerve centers’. 

This approach is bearing fruit; 44 percent of UK organizations believe that a crisis team or ‘nerve center’ plays a significant role in the success of companies in weathering the storm. In the east, China and India share the same consensus, and more than half of organizations in the regions have set up a similar function. 

What is a nerve center?

Globally, the report showed about 37 percent of companies have set up commercial nerve centers, which simply serves as “an efficient means of coordinating an organization’s active response to a major crisis.”

The highly agile and flexible body gathers crucial leadership skills and organizational capabilities to provide structure and clarity to an organization amid an unfamiliar crisis — in this case, COVID-19.

This approach helps organizations to harness available resources and intelligence to best prepare for and track the developments of unprecedented events and their impact on their business and market, rather than reacting to them on-the-fly, possibly even succumbing to them.

How nerve centers help cushion disruption 

Nerve centers can serve as supporting pillars in an unstable market, ensuring the business remains resilient as a crisis unfolds. As compared to traditional crisis-management models, a nerve center thrives on the evolution of ongoing events.

This real-time approach is aided by swift access to data and insights at the current age of technology empowers organizational leaders to make better decisions and plan more effective strategies.

In the thick of uncertainty, a nerve center examines the crisis from various perspectives, with varying levels of knowledge. Therefore, capabilities and opportunities are highlighted when organizations are met with extremely novel and unfamiliar circumstances.

The ability to adapt is prized when in the face of uncertainty; hence, nerve centers maximize efficiency by coordinating and adjusting activities around existing capabilities of an organization and the ongoing issue. It focuses on what is important and what is urgent.

Basically, nerve centers provide executive support that enables business leaders to respond rapidly to the changing needs and work more efficiently to address problems that are impeding business continuity.