How a business face Resilience vs. Efficiency issue during COVID-19

Spread the love


COVID -19 as we now know, have created a lot of challenges and issues especially for businesses in general.

Before the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, majority of the businesses only thought about efficiency in their operation, hardly any management leaders consider resilience of their operations.

After almost two years of facing COVID-19 pandemic and counting the cost affected as results of the pandemic. A lot suddenly realize whatever they used to rely on may not work anymore.

In Business School, lessons learned on efficiency and how to drive for utmost efficiency are some common topics.

Efficiency seemed to be the key word if you want to be the top management leader.

Anyone who can show how to run an operation efficiently, others will look at him in high esteem and consider him the expert to keep the operation alive and popular.

But now? whether the efficient manager is highly regarded? that depends on a lot on whether he has some operational issues as a result of COVID-19 whereby almost everything comes to a standstill.


Efficiency is profit maximization with the lowest of cost and achieving it in the shortest time possible.

In good time and under normal condition, this seems to be a good doctrine to adhere to.

Any manager who can achieve results with the utmost efficiency is deemed to be the star performer.

Japanese coined the term – Just In Time management, This is the benchmark of efficiency at clockwork operation.

What is Resilience?

Resilience seems to be the opposite of efficiency in business world.

According to the definition in Marriam-Webster Dictionary :

Resilience is ability to recover to its original state or shape after some adverse conditions or something bad happen.

So in term of business, COVID-19 pandemic is a good example as almost all businesses are badly affected and whichever able to recover are considered to be very resilient.

Does Efficiency complement Resilience or contradict it?

We notice how COVID-19 had affected businesses over the last two years.

Some efficient companies seemed to do it badly as times go on since every thing seems to be on standstill.

Factories which used to be efficient were the hardest hit as they ran out of raw materials to manufacture.

They are not able to get the new supply in since suppliers also stopped working, so now the once efficient factories now are facing awkward situation.

They do not have enough to raw materials to produce, previously in their effort to cut down holding cost, they did not stock materials beyond what was required for production.

So is efficiency at the expense of resilience?

To be efficient, one of the common measure management take is to be lean and keep cost low.

However, COVID-19 rear up the ugly side of being efficient at the expense of resilience.

We can look at the following examples to have some ideas of how COVID-19 can provide a good case study on efficiency vs resilience.

1. Health care system.

For years, hospitals are trying to be profitable, be it public hospitals or private run hospitals, to do that, they will keep a tight rein on staffs especially on nurses and healthcare staffs.

During COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and all these made the medical staffs stressed and overworked.

2. Logistic and Supply Chain

The current high cost of logistic and supply chain after the slowdown is very obvious.

During the height of the pandemic, some ports tried to be efficient during the good time and now are facing a lot of operational issues, due to the long jam and congestion as factories start ramming up their operation and cargo start to move again.

A lot of ships and tankers mothballed at harbor, at the height of it, you could see a lot in Singapore.


Photo taken by Chee Shi

3. Construction industries

In the good time, construction firms try to be lean as possible and keep minimum workers especially migrant workers. With the pandemic, when people can not travel freely, and workers movement come to standstill, construction firms suddenly find they are in a jam, as their workers especially migrant workers can not report back to work once they have gone back to their home towns for a break.

Efficiency and Resilience as Optimization .

1. Efficiency is short term.

2. Resilience is long term.

Therefore, do you prefer a long term policy or a short term solution?

How do we balance the two in order to achieve the objectives we are looking for?

COVID-19 forced us to innovate and learn new ways to manage our businesses.

The best outcome from the pandemic is seeing most of the businesses decide to take steps to innovate.

Those businesses which are adaptable and creative are finding the challenge to innovate and improve.

The use of Artificial Intelligent is making the businesses more robust and sustainable, hopefully can survive another severe and critical situation like COVID-19

Some businesses emerge stronger and better prepared.

Others take the opportunity to be more efficient and thus becoming more profitable.


A good lesson learned from COVID-19 is to fuse efficiency with resilience, finding the middle path to make the business stronger.

Fareed Zakaria, WaPo, 10/’20:

“The pandemic upended the present. But it’s given us a chance to remake the future.”

If you have any comments and feedback, please feel free to leave your comments in the comments section below.

I will be glad to get back to you.

Do you have any experience which you wish to share about COVID-19 and how you tackle the pandemic in term of business operation,  do share your thought here.