Like many of you, we at Osparna have spent the past number of weeks processing the situation and trying to ensure our loved ones are safe. This included sharing best practices – focusing on the science of pandemics and their spread. We’ve built a criteria set in Osparna’s platform, based on Jeff Jonas’ article – COVID-19 Business Risk — My “Back of the Cocktail Napkin” Exercise – to analyze the risk posed to us, our customers and their investment decisions.
Recently our thinking has shifted a bit. We are wondering what the business of private capital looks like on the other side of this tragedy. As is the case with many of you, a good portion of our work has historically been conducted in person, face to face. We’ve become adept at observing team interactions and making judgements through personal interaction. Certainly those judgements are guided by defined criteria but, like every human, physical presence mattered. So the question for us is, how does our consulting practice adapt to this new normal? What does remote due diligence look like?
Thankfully, we have some day to day experience with this. Our team has been remote from the start. We’ve put in place tools, processes and procedures that support an efficient workplace without in person meetings. Having said that, many of the clients we serve have not. When engaged as consultants, our standard practice has been to travel to the potential portfolio company, meet with the team, and deliver a due diligence report to the client that addresses their specific question but also includes our observations of team dynamics. It isn’t clear yet how team dynamics can be evaluated on a Zoom call but we are working on it.
As Linnet pointed out in her recent post – Who’s On Your Team – character becomes more important in times like these. Biases based on physical presence are stripped away and trust asserts itself in decision making. COVID-19 has presented us with an opportunity to reconfigure how we relate to one another. Let’s take it.