Navigating The Unknown With Resilience, Innovation and Agility

Navigating The Unknown With Resilience, Innovation and Agility

The world has suddenly been plunged into an unforeseen crisis. When it started to pan out in China in December 2019, it seemed far away and remote, and many of us were relatively confident that it would be contained just as it was with Bird Flu, SARS and Ebola. little did we know that most countries, particularly the advanced ones, were ill-prepared for a pandemic and that the kind of devastation being experienced across the world could happen.

We are where we are today, and we begin to ask how do we move from here to there?  As business owners our first thought is how to ride through this, and not only survive but come out strong.

More than ever, this is the time to be Resilient, Innovative and Agile.

Resilience is having the ability and capacity to go through a difficult situation and come out strong.  To survive in this time, you need to be resilient.   

Being Agile is possessing the ability to adapt to change quickly, take decisions, implement them and understand that failure is part of the process. It is also a time to come up with innovative solutions to move ahead.

At a time when there is so much uncertainty, no one seems to have a firm grasp of  what is going on, you have to lead with what you have as well as your instincts , you will have to keep forging ahead and be willing to change. 

A resilient and agile mindset, asking questions and working through the answers will help you navigate through this period.  Below are six things you can do:

Be Positive, Do Not Panic – we are all in this together and panic is the last thing you want to do. It’s affecting the whole world but one way or the other we will get through it. It’s tough, but we are still here and therefore, we have hope for a better tomorrow. It is time to roll up our sleeves, put on our “out-of-the-box” thinking cap and begin to make changes.

Remember, when the going gets tough the tough get going -Do not let fear in as that could paralyze you. You can listen to the news to get just enough information to know how to move forward.

Do not dwell on the negative, look at the pandemic with a holistic approach – it’s global, there are 7 billion people on earth, solutions are coming in at a fast rate, social distancing and testing are working, more people are recovering than dying,  we will make it, we will survive and thrive at the end of this.

Set up a Crisis Management Team   – In a time of crisis, you need a group that will drive your business response to the events. This could be a small group comprising of 2 -10 people, depending on the size of your business.  The first thing is to look at is Business Continuity. If you have a business continuity plan, it’s time to pull it out and implement the relevant aspects of the plan.

However, the plan may not cover some of the issues presented by the pandemic as most likely this type of crisis was not considered.  Whether you have an existing plan or not, you need to ask questions.

The key questions here are focused on customers and employees, without whom there will be no business.

How can you continue to operate during this shutdown?  

What key products and services have been affected?

How are your customers affected?

Are you still able to provide services expected to your customers?

Do you have the right infrastructure to see you through this period?

Do you need to move some assets and investments around?  

How are your employees faring?  

What can you do to help with their well-being, safety, and other needs?

Do you have the tools for them to work from home?   

What is your financial state?

Where do you need to cut costs?

Do you operate a lean model temporarily?

What services can go remote?  

Through this exercise, you will be able to quickly identify some key steps you need to take and define the action steps and assign responsibility. You also need to identify some key parameters that are fundamental to your business survival and ensure you review them consistently throughout this period.

Set up an Innovation team – This is the time to think out-of-the-box – either by innovating existing services or creating new ones. Stay at home, Social Distancing etc. have resulted in much wider use of technology.

Review your products and services and determine the direction you need to go in being innovative:

What products or services have been impacted?

Is there a service you can still offer your clients remotely?

How can you leverage technology in these times?

Ask – If I were to change my service / delivery model and make it more technology-oriented, how would that help?  In your industry what are the essential needs?

Do you have products or infrastructure that can help meet certain needs in high demand due to the pandemic? For example, some factories have dropped their core products and started producing face masks and ventilators. Some grocery stores, restaurants, and other retailers have quickly strengthened their Ecommerce models so that customers’ needs can still be met through online purchases.   

Review your strategy for the year – In the context of this pandemic what is relevant? What does not make sense anymore? Which services can you continue to provide? What needs to go to the cooler for now. Do a SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunities Threat) analysis in this VUCA (Vulnerable Uncertain Complex Agile) time. 

How can you move through the year and be relevant and thrive beyond the now? Tweak, revise and adapt to be more relevant today. Remember you must have an agile mindset and be ready to adapt continuously as the economic environment continues to change.

Read, Learn and Share – Knowledge at this time of ambiguity and so many unknowns help. Join discussion groups, read articles, attend Webinars and share your knowledge as well. One mustn’t fill oneself with negative things, only solutions and things that will help your business and others move forward.

Collaborate, Get involved and Give – If you are a small business or a large one, this is the time to collaborate with other organisations or someone else in your industry or related business. Two are stronger than one. Explore collaboration to deliver a service or product.

Is there anything you can give back to customers, frontline health or essential services companies/workers or even the vulnerable in our society?  This calls for joint efforts and seeks opportunities to collaborate with other organisations to make you stronger – educate others and give back.

This is an unprecedented crisis. Even though the Spanish flu pandemic occurred in 1918, one would not imagine that a century later, with all the technological advancements, the world would be unprepared for another pandemic. The possibility seemed so remote and we didn’t pay adequate attention across the world.

However, we are in this now and we need to forge ahead. No one has all the answers, no one has been there, everyone is predicting the future partly from past events like the 2018 recession, 9/11, and scientific models. These, however, are only part of the equation.

Therefore, we all have an opportunity to be part of the solution. Ask yourself what tools and resources you currently have, what you can learn from what is going on; put these together, look inwards, trust your instincts, be ready to take risks to navigate through these uncharted waters.

You must remember that if you fail, you should fail fast (don’t stay there), look for ways to improve and try again, because failure is the path that will ultimately yield success.

I believe this pandemic is an opportunity for everyone to be more innovative, creative, adapt to change quickly, be more sensitive to the needs of others, be generous, and ultimately come out stronger and together we can make the world a better place.

COVID-19: Your Role as an Employer

COVID-19: Your Role As An Employer

The COVID-19 pandemic has gradually become a global one. Spreading from country to country and affecting or finding its way into every single daily human process and routine, including the workplace.

Already, a lot of companies locally and internationally have had to change their work pattern and process to adjust and help curb the spread of the pandemic. The world health organization and international and even local bodies have advised Social Distancing and many other safety precautions.

Since the workplace is a place where people spend most of their time, the workplace has an important role to play in curbing this pandemic.

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. The risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart, and lung disease are also more vulnerable with high severity.

Source – WHO (World Health Organization)

The question now is, as an employer of labour, what is your role to help curb the spread of the pandemic in the absence of a known and potent vaccine?

ENCOURAGE REMOTE WORK

Looking on the bright side, COVID-19 could be an eye-opener for the workplace in general into the possibilities and the efficiency of remote work. Encourage your staff to work from home if they can. Provide need equipment and support to facilitate this process.

In a scenario where you cannot afford to work remotely, the following will suffice.

MAKE SURE YOUR WORKPLACE IS CLEAN AND HYGIENIC 

Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Surfaces are the fastest ways a virus can spread when touched by employees and customers.

Encourage regular and consistent thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers by providing washing equipment, sanitizers, and disinfectants to easily accessible places in the office.

Make use of posters and office sign items if you have to, and also brief your staff (at least once daily) about the status of the pandemic an also or look to WHO’s Situation Report to get the latest news and advice.

IF THERE IS EVER A CASE OF COVID-19

Develop a contingency plan of what to do if an employee shows symptoms within the NCDC or WHO listed symptoms of COVID-19.

The plan should entail putting such employee in a place where they are isolated from others in the workplace, totally reducing contact with such person and contacting the right authorities.

Don’t forget to do this without stigmatization, discrimination and the spread of panic.

You can also talk to your local health authorities (NCDC) handling the pandemic about your initial plan and as for the help with the approved guide.