We have all read a lot of articles about these “unprecedented times” and I think it is time for a reality check and, instead of waiting for the C-19 vaccine as a 2021 Messiah, we should get ready for a new mindset rather than for a new normal.
Charles Darwin warned us a century and something ago that only the species who are most adaptable to change, survive. 2020 is a good year to understand what he actually meant.
let’s start with the safety measures put in place by most countries: apart from face masks, gloves, and the now famous 2 meters distance, aren’t the other one’s things that we should do regardless of COVID?
Wash your hands often, don’t show up sick at the office, sneeze in a tissue or in your in-elbow, don’t send your kids to school if they have a fever, don’t touch your face after shaking hands with somebody, etc.
Really? Do we need to be reminded about this by posters on supermarket doors?
Truth is that all busy running around, face down into our “smart” phones, we have lost the touch with how to be smart ourselves.
The same lack of common sense happened in the business world: the first great discovery was that employees are human beings and many of them actually have families and kids.
When the crisis kicked in and top-line numbers started to get missed, managers started looking more carefully at P&Ls, unprofitable SKUs were magically unveiled and so were those negative margins promos in supermarkets.
All of a sudden we had the enlightenment that many of those business trips were superfluous and so were those duplicate roles and positions in corporate headquarters.
Another discovery was that t-shirts, gadgets, and other POS material for bars and restaurants were also not a priority for on-trade owners. They were rather focusing on avoiding bankruptcy.
Is this really a Covid-related crisis or was Covid just the sparkle that ignited it?
Wasn’t Covid just the occasion to do our homework, look ourselves in the mirror and understand what really matters in life and business and what a “sustainable growth” really is?
Linkedin profiles are famous for bragging their allegedly achieved “double-digit growth” targets but Covid19 showed us that there are more lines than just the top one in the P&L to retake control of.
While busy reading articles from oracles discussing how to become future-proof in the new normal, we missed important news:
there is no such thing as “new normal” but rather a very “flexible normal”. Old and New will seamlessly coexist.
Fluid, flexible, adaptable, pick the synonym you want but be so.
Yes, forget about the latest click-bait articles about what is going to happen and possible doomed scenarios:
- There will not be e-commerce overtaking regular shops. It will not be the end of the offices.
- The same person buying only online for a week might go out for lunch in restaurants every day the following week, depending on how safe they feel and how tired to be at home they are.
- Some people will want to relocate to the countryside, some people will keep loving the city centre. Cities will not empty out, nor will supermarkets because of Amazon Prime.
I’ll tell you what, e-commerce and real shops will coexist for a while.
It is also useless to compare country responses to the pandemic: some countries will perform better a month and have a spike in positive cases the month after.
- Many businesses have focused their attention on recouping the lockdown-lost turnover focusing on the short term, keeping on doing the same things they were doing before March as soon as lockdown measures eased. Guess what, when those measures kicked in again, so did the same old issues.
- Other businesses have then decided to pivot their businesses jumping on the new cool: e-commerce without realizing that their issue was their portfolio strategy and their range (which they kept on-line), not forgetting their problems with their back office.
Undeniably, all businesses have been affected by COVID but let’s first look at the business’s previous medical conditions because those are still there. Half a year after this all started, we can stop, analyze, and course-correct:
now it’s the time to go back to basics, secure the business existence, fix pre-covid issues and built the foundations for sustainable long-term growth, building flexible solution that gives a buffer for low and high tides.