Managing crises in uncertain times

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused interruptions and challenges in almost every sector of business, including logistics and the supply chain. In 2020, when COVID first emerged as a global crisis and businesses began to shut down or reduce their operations, the global economy was temporarily turned off. As more information became available, and as mitigation strategies were put in place, the economy rebounded, creating an environment in which shipping demand outpaced market capacity.

With many consumers spending more time at home and having access to more disposable income than in recent history, demand for goods raised retail volumes, specifically within the ecommerce space, that are now years ahead of schedule, with a supply chain that has struggled to keep up. From backlogs at ports, to driver shortages, to reduced equipment availability and a lack of predictability and precision, logistics companies, along with shippers, had to respond quickly in order to best meet their business needs in this new environment.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that can help guide your business through any crisis.


  • If you haven’t done so already, establish clear business needs and goals. To navigate a crisis, you need to truly understand the needs and goals of your business and where it is headed. Every major decision should be aligned with achieving those goals. If you have a plan but have had to look under the hood, now is the time to do an overall review and reassess the goals of your organization.
  • Be ready and willing to pivot when a scenario is not going as expected. Use existing resources in new ways to adapt to quickly changing situations. “This is how we always do things” and similar language should be eliminated. Take the situation that your business is facing as an opportunity to be your own consultant and to be a stronger leader and company as a result of it.
  • Engage your partnerships and work together. Have open and candid conversations with vendors, clients, customers and staff about the challenges that have come up. With clear communication, these relationships can be strengthened and keep everyone working with synergy toward a common goal. The strongest partnerships are ones in which expectations from all parties are understood and are in alignment with the business goals.


  • Don’t overreact and throw away what is working. Trust what your company has done to become successful and continue to invest in the people and processes that support this success.
  • Although you shouldn’t overreact, don’t expect to see different results if nothing changes. In times of adversity and uncertainty, doing nothing and hoping things will get better is not the best strategy.
  • Don’t be the victim. It can be too easy to blame external factors that you may have limited-to-zero control over, such as the economy and the overall environment that may be impacting your business in a negative way. Focus on what you can control and do not make excuses.

Adapting to adversity in uncertain times requires a deft willingness to meet the moment. With agility, clear communication and the willingness to think and act differently, companies can position themselves to not only survive a crisis but to be better because of it. ●

Kristy Knichel is CEO of Knichel Logistics

Kristy Knichel



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