The river has moved! The bridge is no longer useful

Coronavirus is a mighty wind that has changed the global landscape in terms of how people lead and make choices. It is one of the powerful change agents of the 21st century.

Times and challenges have changed, and so have management beliefs and practices.

Gone are the days when printing magazines made lots of money. Not anymore. The Internet made exclusive content readily available. Many magazines and print newspaper publications have since changed their business models in response to the new realities. Others have adopted the hybrid business models of a robust digital strategy together with the print version. No publication today can succeed without a compelling digital strategy. Many publications can succeed with a digital strategy. But none can survive with only a strategy of selling print versions.  That goes to show the power of the winds of change.

In the beginning, the business model was a ‘manual’ one. Recruit writers, editors, and administration staff permanently to visit the office daily and return home in the evening. Hire marketing officials on a full-time basis. Look for advertisers. Print the daily newspaper or monthly magazine. Repeat. And this model worked well for some time.

Then the Internet happened. It changed everything.

To win, print media houses must embrace the digital strategy or a hybrid strategy of print and digital. Without digital in the equation, no print publishing company can thrive.

Enter the world of consulting firms. Gone are the days when big office space was a business model. The focus was to find a nice location in the hope that when prospects visited your office and found it presentable, they would sign the cheque instantly and pay decent fees. Of course, there are still many people thinking in the past. The truth is business models evolve to respond to with the times.

This brings me to the story of Choluteca Bridge in Honduras.

According to, “Choluteca bridge was designed to withstand even the strongest hurricane, it survived Hurricane Mitch, a category 5 storm that devastated the Caribbean in 1998. Every other bridge in Honduras was destroyed. The only problem: the powerful storm had changed the landscape and moved the river right out from underneath the Choluteca Bridge. Completely. Permanently. As this image shows, the bridge is now a bridge to nowhere.

The key theme in this story is change. Hurricane Mitch changed the course of the river, so the reason for the Choluteca Bridge changed.”

What does this mean to your career?

Photo credit:

I am a member of the EY Alumni WhatsApp group. On the morning of 6th August 2020, someone shared an article about the Choluteca bridge, written by a one Prakash Iyer, on the need to evolve and change with the times, which I found fascinating. I did further research on Google about the story, and indeed it is true. The storm left the bridge useless after it changed the course of the river. It is rare. But it happened. Now the bridge connects to nowhere! The best piece of engineering lying idle. No one would have anticipated that one day in the future, and the river would move and render the bridge useless.

We not only learn that nothing is permanent. We learn to have the future

The story of this bridge provides a fantastic metaphor to invest with adaptiveness and evolution in mind.

The river has moved.

The coronavirus has suddenly challenged all our strategic plans and business models. There is a need to review and adapt them to the current conditions. With physical distancing, many hotels have been left without customers.

An advert on social media purportedly by once one of the busiest hotels in Kampala city, with over 50 self-contained rooms and conference rooms each going for about the US $250 per night, is now being advertised that whole hotel can be hired for just Ugx. 4m per day! Ugx. 4m per day to rent the entire hotel and access over three mega-conference halls and 50 self-contained rooms that are fully serviced.

How are you evolving your business to win?

How has your business been affected? How do you plan to change your business model to match the new realities?

What is your river? Is it still in place? Has it moved? Can you easily move the bridge? Or is it stuck and useless?

If you don’t embrace technology and reading the right courses and qualifications, the river (your clients and prospects) will move, while you (the bridge) remain stuck in the past. That could mean your business failure.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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