Lessons From History
Once in a while along comes something that derails everyone’s plans. In the 20th Century there were two global wars, Spanish Flu and a couple of other significant events like the Great Depression and the HIV/AIDS epidemic that rumbles on.
It seems that in the early part of the 21st Century history is to some extent repeating itself. (We already had our version of the Great Depression via the Financial Crisis in 2008.) The events of 9/11 with the ensuing wars against terror around the globe had some of the facets of the Great War of 1914-18 with refugees spilling over borders in many directions. Follow that up with a pandemic of COVID-19 and there’s the parallel with the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-19, complete with lack of vaccines and (instead of troop movements) a world population used to travelling the globe by air or cruise liner spreading it around.
A Bolt From the Blue
This particular pandemic (like others before) appeared out of the blue. There was little if anything that you or I could have done to foresee or forestall it. However it does give us some opportunities to rethink what we have been doing in business as usual. It’s likely that many businesses will come out of this episode having gone through major transformation.
Bolts from the blue are disruptive. Their direction and impact is completely unpredictable and yet there are immediate steps that we can take to mitigate them.
Reacting to the Disruptive Rival
Just think for a moment about what happens when a business rival introduces a disruptive way of operating. In the USA, Pacific Southwest airlines pioneered the no-frills approach to flying, minimizing operating costs and without some of the traditional services and amenities provided in the fare, resulting in lower fares and fewer comforts. Now that model is everywhere and some of the larger new players such as EasyJet, Ryanair or Norwegian (in Europe) have taken great bites out of their traditional rivals along the way.
Online shopping is disrupting the high streets and also the fast food industry. Apps are changing the way we hail a cab and so on.
So it could be with COVID-19. That is forcing businesses to operate differently. Will the business air travel sector ever be the same again? I suspect not because organisations are suddenly having to use remote working and online applications such as Skype or Zoom to hold meetings. Once they have got used to that I suspect many won’t return to the airlines. What else is going to change forever?
Start To Look For the Opportunities
Physical goods are still going to have to be produced. Food, drink and medicines will still need to be consumed. Crops will require planting and harvesting. The list goes on.
This is where it can be fruitful to start looking at your own situation and working out what those challenges are. That’s STEP 1 in a process to delivering some real benefits from this chaos. The question on many people’s lips will be “How do I/we do that? Surely responding to coronavirus / COVID-19 isn’t going to make things better?”
The simple answer is “Yes it might” but you need to actually do something to work this one out. That’s where it pays to get help with the creativity and analysis. In addition you won’t want armies of consultants tramping through your workplace so you are going to need people who can offer the right help via remote means.
Some Food For Thought
One of the more immediate effects of the reaction to COVID-19 has been a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly Nitrous Oxides in places where the virus was most prevalent. The question therefore might be asked as to how we have managed to operate without those emissions and how can that be taken forward.
We are also having to get used to asking for medical help through call centres that do triage before medical professionals are deployed. Until now there was always the tendency to head for the Accident & Emergency Department of the local hospital (the Emergency Room). Those facilities have been inundated for far too long dealing with matters that really should not be clogging up hospitals at all. As we come through this can we devise better ways for dealing with populations that don’t require them to leave their own homes as a matter of routine? There could be real benefits in terms of the cost and efficiencies of delivery in healthcare, freeing resources to be applied in more useful channels such as prevention or complex/costly treatments.
Family medical practitioners are having to deliver more consultations remotely which may relieve the pressure on some practices by allowing this to be networked or done out of normal hours. There are some silver linings already visible amidst the gloom and panic. Remote island communities in the Scottish Hebrides are suddenly getting together to develop cooperative online propositions to bolster their earnings that have been heavily dependent on tourism. A simple business transformation that COULD have been done before but took the stimulus of the pandemic to get people thinking.
How does this translate into other sectors? Restaurants and hospitality rely on people interactions but there might be some radical solutions. We’ve already seen some small attempts at delivering home dining. Can that expand and how? What else might we do differently – there are more questions than answers, so how about going looking for the latter?
Where Are the Online Helpers?
Nobody expects that you can just do this without some help or guidance. So where do you look?
Industry bodies tend to be focused on maintaining the status quo or holding the fort until things return to normal (whatever that might mean). So they tend not to offer much in the way of innovation or analysis. Instead there are a number of organisations that have deliberately been set up to deliver this type of advice to multiple clients simultaneously and remotely. robwherrett.com is one such business that brings decades of experience to bear.
Don’t talk to the employment agencies of interim management teams – they are set up to deliver bodies on the ground, which is exactly the opposite of what you need right now. If you want to pick up more ideas on how to select consultants then click HERE.
What Should YOU Do?
Start talking to those who can help you. We’ve got decades of experience in coaching and mentoring people just like you to come up with radical solutions to the seemingly impossible challenges life throws their way. Ultimately you want to be the survivors who don’t just shut up shop but instead deliver awesome as the new normal.
So get in touch and let’s start the conversation. You can’t afford to sit back and wait for everything to return to normal – because things aren’t ever going to be quite the same again.
The author Rob Wherrett can be contacted at https://robwherrett.com/contact/
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