Leadership: Striking a Balance Between Deliberate and Instinctive Thinking

As Covid-19 continues to spread to new geographic epicenters, companies are mobilizing responses to mitigate its impact.


Rather than succumb to panic or organizational paralysis, we must take this time as an opportunity to seek the upside for employees, enterprises, and the economy. Although companies are already facing a myriad of challenges, business leaders must be proactive and seek solutions that ensure short-term liquidity and preserve future viability.


Many companies are focusing their attention on defensive moves, whilst others innovate around emerging opportunities. The economic impact of Covid-19 calls on business leaders to step up on multiple fronts: attending to employee needs and wellbeing, developing both practical solutions and next-level innovations, and positioning companies to thrive in a new normal.


So, how can businesses reinvent themselves in times of crisis? What's the economic outlook for Europe? Why do companies need to prioritize digitization?


As Founder and CEO of Next Big Thing AG, this article is intended to highlight 9 key lessons in creating a successful business plan to move beyond crisis response to recovery and post-recovery planning.


  1. 1. Weathering the Storm: Overcoming Business Pressures

Our first order of business is to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of our employees. With a team of 50+ individuals, it’s crucial that we exercise empathy for our team members and their families. Responsibility goes beyond the workplace: caring for loved ones, managing children’s schedules who can no longer attend school, and trying to stay healthy themselves, all while continuing with work.


As soon as the global lockdown was enforced, it was important that we manage misinformation and distress within our organization. At times, it’s been challenging to adapt to the new work situation but as a solution, we reinforced what we already do — empowering our employees. We ensured that top-level management communicated information and expectations clearly, confidently, and consistently. Each of our employees has our full trust, and the responsibility, and autonomy to produce high-quality outcomes across all departments. Managers and team leads are empowered to make decisions, bearing in mind a clear set of enterprise priorities to drive forward efficient, innovative, agile, and high-quality work.


  1. 2. Technology on the Front Lines: Developing a Strategy to Prepare for the Future

Currently, initial reactions to Covid-19 have lead companies to try and implement business methodologies to make sense of its impact. This is followed by crisis response, recovery strategy, post-recovery strategy, and finally, reflection and learning.


Global epidemic preparedness and disaster response mechanisms are severely underfunded, and businesses need to help fill this gap. Business leaders have an obligation to look beyond the Covid-19 crisis to reimagine purchasing behaviors, corporate needs, user patterns, and collaboration models. Companies must test home-office technology to review and prepare for future remote work policies.




In some ways, the epidemic has accelerated an automated future that’s already on its way. To plan for the future, businesses should focus on 3 core strategies: 1) Combining transformational leadership with innovative technology; 2) Building business resiliency (e.g. supply chain optimization, or remote site monitoring), and; 3) Planning and preparing for future uncertainties (e.g. having the essential production infrastructure or suppliers nearby).


  1. 3. Motivating Remote Teams and Managing Expectations

Throughout this global stress test, we have done our best to remain positive and know what we stand for. Here at NBT, that means looking at how we can solve real-world problems with technology. In response to the new working conditions and to manage expectations, we’ve implemented daily standups in addition to our company-wide weekly team meeting. We’ve taken a bottom-up approach where each department and their team lead comes up with new ideas to empower employees with the knowledge to fix problems at the source.


When it comes to digital tools, we continually test out the latest market collaboration tools. We have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the new reality of home-office. We  maintain an ‘open-door’ policy between team leaders and team members if any questions or concerns arise and focus on collaboration because we know that together, we can achieve more.


  1. 4. Transitioning from the Old Economy to the Machine Economy

During this time of crisis, there’s no greater opportunity for technology to shine. Although this topic has already been discussed at length, digitalization is more important than ever and companies with historic organizational structures need to reimagine new ways of working, as well as new business models, in order to survive (and thrive).


The Covid-19 crisis has put business capabilities, global dependencies and Europe’s innovation abilities to the test. A clear solution is prioritizing the rapid adoption of novel technologies and co-innovation with tech experts to realize innovation that leaps ahead of the competition. By joining forces to build digital solutions through co-creation, we’re making a direct contribution to the digital sovereignty and prosperity of Europe's technology landscape. This is exactly our approach at Next Big Thing. As a venture studio for the Machine Economy, we support companies as a technical partner in developing new IoT business models by bringing them to market maturity, rapidly and reliably even during the crisis.


  1. 5. Mapping the Value Drivers of the Machine Economy

The adoption of core technologies (blockchain, IoT, AI) and connected machinery comes with a myriad of benefits: 1) Business transformation as a result of digitalization; 2) IoT enables interoperability between components; 3) Greater transparency and the elimination of information silos; 4) Increased productivity, inventory management, and supply chain efficiency as a result of condition monitoring and; 5) Actionable, data-driven insights for better decision making, just to name a few.


A business infrastructure will emerge where remote asset access becomes more important, increased investments will go into easy-to-install IoT retrofit solutions and digital twins will help with scenario planning. Track & trace solutions will get used more extensively and smart households and city data platforms will become key. As the current crisis continues to expose business vulnerabilities, companies are able to leverage new opportunities and fill underserved market niches. Businesses that prepare for a more automated future, where real-time trusted data insights will be key, are the ones that will withstand the effects of future macroeconomic setbacks.


  1. 6. Leading with a Shared Vision in Mind

Business success arises from innovative-thinking, forecasting, and taking advantage of opportunities. Going forward, organizations will develop trust-based cultures with employees, and leaders will engage people to work together creatively. Here at NBT, we empower others to do their part in driving forward the long-term success of the company, our ventures, and extended network of partners and suppliers.




As a resilient and patient capital provider, we see recessions and “black swan” events as inevitable in global markets. We continue to work through them and leverage changes that occur to support and grow our venture portfolio. We are continuing to build and invest in new ventures through this crisis and feel that it makes a strong case for the move toward the Machine Economy.


  1. 7. Understanding the Need for Digitalization and New Business Models

If the current business ecosystem has taught us one thing, it’s that we need to prioritize digitalization. We see digitalization as a 3-tier approach: Tier 1) Ensuring business stability and continuity while understanding the impact of the crisis; Tier 2) Implementing new ways of working, and; Tier 3) Taking lessons learned from the crisis to prioritize innovation and digital transformation for future organizational resilience. Startups, company builders, and corporates alike need to collaborate and join forces, not to predict the future, but rather to shape it.


At NBT, we bring together today’s most ambitious thinkers to solve tomorrow’s biggest challenges with technology. Here’s what we've already made possible today: 1) Remote maintenance and sustainability management in the housing industry with metr and Auxolar; 2) Precision care in health management with AssistMe; 3) Increased security in network connectivity with Weeve and Enclave; 4) Sensor modules for IIoT applications of the future with Sensry and; 5) Smart tech solutions for the construction industry with ConcR, with many more still to come in 2020!


  1. 8. Prioritizing Technology and a Solution to Build the Machine Economy

Prior to the crisis, many businesses already pursued applications of digital transformation to compete with competitors and leverage the functionality of digitized business models. What was once a discretionary option is now an urgent priority. Going forward, companies must redesign business models with the key characteristics of resilient systems in mind: collaboration diversity, modularity, adaptivity, and the capacity to learn.


Now with the recent home-office policies in place, we’ve seen a notable uptick in technologies such as: 1) Remote-work infrastructure; 2) Collaboration tools; 3) VPN networking; 4) Security services and; 5) Desktop support.


  1. 9. By not Taking Action Today, we may Deeply Regret Tomorrow

Over the last decade, we’ve seen investments in technologies and automation increase during times of crisis. As a result, IoT will see a boost as inefficient processes and technology bottlenecks in business are exposed. As companies adjust to the post-covid world, AI will play a central role in modernizing healthcare, cybersecurity, supply chain management, and manufacturing.


AI will help with future disaster management where big data will detect problems and take actions that in the past could only be done inefficiently by humans. AI tools gather and analyze large data sets to learn underlying patterns, enabling computer systems to make complex decisions, and recognize conditions, among many other things. These AI-enabled systems are able to continuously learn and adapt, and they will provide transparency and the means for companies to gain a competitive advantage in this new business landscape.


As NBT leads the charge in deep-tech solutions, IoT, blockchain, and AI, we aim to help make sense of the complex forces driving the Machine Economy. Through our purpose-driven approach to venture-building and technology expertise, we actively lead by example and hope to inspire others to follow.


To find out more about innovating with IoT, or to co-innovate with NBT, reach out to us!


Tune into ntvNachrichten's podcast series for more insights on the importance of digitalization, innovation strategies and why Europe is in a good position to implement core technologies such as IoT and blockchain.