Survive Or Thrive? A personal and business decision.

At the onset of our lockdown, I was faced with three options.
  1. Play ostrich by ignoring the noise and hype around me
  2. Satisfy my curiosity – find out how events like these might play out
  3. Make soup. Lots of it. For me and the community around me.
In retrospect, there was no real choice: I did all three. Ignoring the noise and hype wasn’t about being in denial. Like any business leader, I knew that there could be no ignoring the monumental ground shifts that were about to happen. However, my nature is to plan and predict everything tightly. In order to do that, I like to be richly informed. I needed to stay firm in my resolutions of survival, hope and ultimately, thriving.   As a coach whose clients, as leaders in their own businesses, were floundering in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding and ahead of them, I felt I needed to stay firm in my resolutions of survival, hope and ultimately, thriving. It had been a while since I’d had the time to dive deeply and journey down the path of history.  This time, I felt it was for a greater purpose than self.  If I was going to survive lockdown and its aftermath, I needed to ensure I could speak from a place of real, and somewhat informed, hope.  By combining history and embracing reputable futurist’s scenarios, history showed me several things: that people face crises and survive; that people face crises and thrive; and that humanity invariably shapes change into positive outcomes. Aki Anastasiou, in his YouTube series with South African business leaders in which they discuss a post Covid world, summed it up for me when he noted that business leaders are all saying that the crisis made them do the impossible. It is essential, he noted, that we continue to ask: “Where else can we do the impossible?” The impossible is doable. Businesses can survive and thrive. It requires clear thinking. This is not always easy amidst the panic, dismal income and expenditure figures, staff layoffs and the devaluation of the local currency. So how do we do it? We need to take a creative look at our business models. A few non-negotiables on the path to thriving are: 1.  Talent management. Current figures being cited in South Africa show that 40 – 50% of employees, having worked from home, are expressing the need to continue doing so. And overall, it seems they’re more productive doing just that. While their physical space may have changed, the elements that ensure their commitment to your goals hasn’t. They are, however, going to need fresh support structures, i.e. more support technologically, to focusing on mental resilience and creative flexibility. Practically speaking: A Corporate Wellness programme that talks to them in their homes, gets them moving, thinking and meditating.  (I may have one for you – paula@chialife.co.za) 2.  Procurement and production – sourcing local is more imperative than  ever before. Not just for the bottom line but for active citizenship in which we bolster both individuals and SMEs that find themselves hanging on by their fingernails. Practically speaking: For once, I’d say use social networks like Best Thing Ever and Marketplace on Facebook and Business groups on LinkedIn.  Before ‘shopping’ for a new supplier internationally – tap into your team’s knowledge and networks. They do, after all,  know your business best. 3.  Digital transformation: a world predicted to shift gradually over the next decade has fast-forwarded to digital overnight. You’ve already moved your team home. As you start moving them back, start exploring and embracing new levels of the 4th industrial revolution. It’s time to meet your customers where they are – in their homes, where they’re spending an increasing amount of retail energy. Practically speaking:  If you haven’t already – do a ‘standstill’ on all your products, services, or brands – assess their value not just from a post-Covid perspective, but think 2030.  How will they fit in the home or lives of people who’ve shifted?  Can they be delivered to the front door?  Consider how welcome your product is in the home and how it could be adapted to be more enticing to secure an “invitation” now, or in 2030.
  1. Touch your audience. The world is emotional, and the world is needy – and with this comes a toughness shown throughout history – to emerge from the chaos. From supplier to EXCO, management team to factory staff, retail customer to end consumer – you’re going to need to be visibly empathetic and ‘in tune’.
Practically Speaking:  Listen.  Listen to your stakeholders and develop an action plan that responds to what you have heard. They have all experienced change in some way or another.  They’re tired or anxious – et al. They’ve changed.  They’re different and you need to know in what way, they are different. As a leader your people are looking to you for the next step. It’s time to take a deep breath, reign in your fears, and take a massive – yet carefully considered – leap of faith.   If you’d like a thinking partner who will guide your doubts and instincts to a point where you have clear, actionable plans to share with your management team and employees, consider business coaching. Let’s have an online introductory session at no charge, to see if my methodologies resonate with you. Book your session now, emailing me paula@chialife.co.za      
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