Long before the pandemic that has crippled entire countries, jamming the wheels of the global economy, we were already heading for a world characterized by complexity, rapid change and uncertainty.
The tragic outbreak of the coronavirus has precipitated and accentuated this dynamic in all areas, imposing new uses and practices that can substantially change the rules of the political, social and economic game.
Once the health emergency has been contained but not resolved, the time has come to return to the fragile new normalcy, despite the obvious risks, because the cost of not doing so would simply be the ruin of everyone. For companies, this return means discovering how to resume their activity in an unprecedented context, with new conditions that are also likely to change from one day to the next.
Uncertainty is the word, and resilience is the key to overcome it, that is, the ability to absorb setbacks, adapt and come out of them better prepared to face the next round of difficulties. In my opinion, there are three key skills, beyond technical competence, that are expected of a business leader in this new environment.
Firstly, you must learn to manage uncertainty, as another input into the business process, with its own identity. We seek security through pure primary instinct, but we are not going to have it these days.
Continuous learning and adaptation must be part, now more than ever, of our way of acting. Lessons can come from everywhere: other countries, other sectors, partners or competitors. New information must be analysed and incorporated quickly; we must be able to alter any previous approach, whether incrementally or radically, as new relevant data emerge. This mental and intellectual disposition must also be transferred to the organization and use of technology.
You will need lightweight structures and intelligent exploitation of information.
Closely linked to the management of uncertainty (some will say that it is part of it) is the management of frustration. At a time when epidemic outbreaks cannot be ruled out, political decisions may be wrong or unfavourable to the interests of the company, the competition is ahead of us or what seemed to work well stops working, we cannot give in to the first, the second or the umpteenth setback.
In our help there are applications on the market that help us manage quickly, addressing the full process as a whole, so that any link in the chain (from purchasing and manufacturing to billing) is prepared for the challenges that await us.
The third key element of resilience will be the ability to establish connections and form teams, develop joint projects and alliances, with a multidisciplinary approach, innovating in the way we do business. Marketing networks can be shared, patents exchanged, collateral markets occupied, unproductive business lines disposed of, etc.
There are many more ways of doing business than those we have used up to now and it is a matter of keeping our eyes wide open so that no opportunity is missed and we do not let in any collaborators who can help us on our way. There are many local chambers of commerce, business associations, consumer clubs and all kinds of organizations where we can find a market niche or change for our product that makes it irresistible for a particular market niche or region. We have to connect with the world outside our company.
Small details that were previously unimportant are now vital: we cannot afford unnecessary burdens. We need precise knowledge of the company and its processes, its people and its talents, not to mention the lines of financial and administrative security. To do this, the company has its historical and current financial, operational and environmental data.
Data, data, data. Work, work, work.