Creative thinking: Managing your business during hard times, part 2

What about the number of years the business has been in existence?

No. Not at all. Historical pre-existence does not necessarily provide immunity to the troubles caused by hard times. The corporate graveyard is full of dead companies that failed to respond to the modern VUCAP – volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and pandemic times. Many others are on their sickbed.

Continued from part 1.

Then what matters?

It is the behaviours of business leaders and managers that matter the most!

It is about the response and recovery decisions taken by business leaders during and after the hard times have struck.

At Summit Consulting Ltd, during this period, we have been working (and continue to work) with business leaders to respond and recover businesses during the hard times using “The Power of Three” (the 3Es model). We are happy to have responded well and adopted our working approaches using remote delivery channels. Before the pandemic, we had created capabilities for the mobile office, each of our staff with a mobile device (laptop). So when the lockdown was announced, we immediately discontinued the office fixed internet, and instead channelled the money to mobile data bundles. And since over 90% of our clients have never visited our offices, we made a quick decision to reduce our floor space and channelled the savings to cloud hosting and digital solutions into a platform for remote working. We find our quick decisions have eased our cash flow pressures and given us cost-cutting initiatives we would have never considered. In the past, a large floor size was a measure we tracked – it was common for some of our staff to boast about our company’s success in terms of the size of our offices. How wrong we were. Now our measures are number whitepapers downloaded from our website (this shows our thought leadership and leadership influence), and client inquiries via our digital channels.

We see such a business focus shift to be creative and a silver lining brought about the pandemic.

To win, we have applied our summit3Es + ACT model of winning behaviours for creative and successful business management during hard times. We have witnessed this model shape and transform businesses since the disruptive COVID-19 control measures were issued by the President on 18th March 2020. The summit3Es + ACT stands for Efficiency, Evolution, and Empowerment. And ACT stands for Assess, Change, and Transform – the brand promise of Summit Consulting Ltd.

Efficiency

Efficiency does not necessarily mean cost reduction. Efficiency is about focusing on organizational fitness and maintaining the right resources that will enable it to survive the hard times. When the President differentiated essential products and services during his national address on 18th March, we assume his technocrats had assessed “organizational fitness”, at the country level.

Organizational fitness is measured by considering every area and culture (including communication, leadership, and motivation) of the business, linking them to growth and profit.  Efficiency also involves crafting the right mix of resources in terms of manpower, machines, materials, money, and markets to have the business win through a tough time.

Recently, at Summit Consulting, while guiding one of our FMCG clients to focus or organizational fitness, we tasked the Top Management Team to provide answers to each of the following questions:

How will your customers’ spending patterns be impacted?
Which of your products will experience a surge in demand?
How will your distribution channels be impacted?
Will the hard time habits of your customers stick, or will they wane, and things get back to the old normal?
Has a new competitor emerged (or an old one closed shop) during this period?
To win, what core competencies do you need to retain and what competencies can you afford to shed off?

And the CEO of one of our other clients in the financial services sector has been experiencing financial upsets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and had to approach us.  “Usually in June, we re-valuate and tweak our budget”, he told us. “So, what do we do this year”?

To be continued…

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