Suzanne Stevens, Deputy CEO of BrightRock. Photo: Supplied
Suzanne Stevens, Deputy CEO of BrightRock. Photo: Supplied

To thrive in a pandemic, you need to reinvent your business

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 16, 2020

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The Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to many debates. But if there’s one thing commentators appear to be united in, it’s the certainty that our world will be forever changed by it.

We’ve all heard the phrase the ‘new normal’, and some economists have predicted that most businesses will have to fundamentally change the way they operate to be able to succeed in a post-Covid global economy.

The good news is, that this is entirely possible – science tells us so. Businesses that are sufficiently agile and creative have the potential to pivot and reinvent themselves, and ultimately stay relevant both during this pandemic and after the dust has settled. The pivot process is multifaceted: it involves forming new habits, adopting a committed growth mindset, and behaving like a hungry and innovative start-up.

In behavioural science, there’s a term for the kind of behaviour that sets apart the individuals who are able to succeed when faced with similar challenges where their peers tend to fail. It’s called ‘Positive Deviance’, and it’s a capacity that allows these people to come up with better solutions. Positive deviance calls for an openness, and optimism of behaviour first rather than thought – in essence, the mindset that it’s “easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your into a new way of acting".

Equipped with these tools, success in the wake of Covid-19 is entirely possible.

Combine powerful new habits with a growth mindset

Humans are all too familiar with the need to change, it has been a critical part of our survival for millennia. It has also been studied in detail and the science of how and why people change is well known and established. What Covid-19 has made abundantly clear, is that businesses are no different. Companies both big and small are capable of adapting to the prevailing circumstances – and indeed of thriving amid them.

Strong leadership is crucial to the success of this adaptation. Even at the best of times, good leaders can help businesses to maximise productivity and achieve their goals. During times of crisis, good business leadership involves forming new habits to make change possible and keeping a firm and steady gaze on the potential for growth. Doing so can lead to important shifts in the way your business works, in the way it engages with its client base, and the way it solves problems.

While it can feel daunting to consider changing systems and processes at a time of uncertainty, this lateral-thinking approach is the very thing that makes growth and success achievable.

Think like a start-up

One way to adopt this growth mindset is to think like an entrepreneur starting a business. Start-ups focus on what makes good strategic sense, they prioritise innovation and they’re quick to adapt to change. Be like a start-up

1. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo

Entrepreneurs look around and ask, “Why does everyone do this the same way?” They start with a blank piece of paper before them and write down ideas that are entirely new and fresh. Businesses that disrupt the status quo, particularly during a crisis, can position themselves at the cutting edge of their industries. The result is growth.

2. Form multi-disciplinary teams

Unprecedented problems need to be met with a diverse range of knowledge and skills. A narrow approach is only going to reduce, or even eliminate, your chances of success. You need to be able to look at things from a variety of different perspectives and find a number of different solutions to any given challenge. This requires different people with different skills-sets to be seated at your table.

3. Be curious and creative

Go beyond your own context for inspiration. You might be surprised at the parallels that can be drawn between sectors and industries.

4. Leap into action and start doing

Start-ups are bold. They turn their engines on quickly in order to put some of their ideas into practice. They think carefully and strategically, but then swiftly take the plunge to see whether their ideas have scope for success. Making this part of your approach will likely distinguish you from your competitors.

Embrace risk – strategically

Our experience has taught us that nothing in business is guaranteed. You have to perform and get better at whatever you do, or you will lose your competitive advantage. These uncertain times may tempt some businesses into being more risk averse, but in many instances, being decisive in this time is what will set you apart.

In this new era, businesses need to re-orientate their products, services, and business model to a new business landscape. Continuing with the ways of old is no longer an option. To continue growing and staying relevant, depends on adaptation, innovation, and the courage to reinvent.

Suzanne Stevens, Deputy CEO of BrightRock

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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