From truck-driving to high sea sailing: business survival tools in the turbulent times

We live in a technology-driven world that is changing rapidly.

Of the many technical challenges we face now, the problem of the pandemic and its consequences is the most acute. The COVID-19 outbreak has had multiple effects on businesses, changing the way we work, communicate and entertain ourselves. In times of crises, prompt actions are required to ensure mid- and long-term results. In order to be resilient and sustainable, organisations should have a professional crisis management plan.

Until recently, running a business has been very much like driving a truck, moving along a direct route with manageable obstacles and reasonable predictability. However, the current situation is more akin to sailing the high seas, with enormous waves, strong winds and currents. This situation is more complicated since it is no longer possible to control all the processes. The team is in danger, with uncertainty a prevailing factor. Therefore, it is time for organisations to learn how to sail, using tools and methods to ensure survival in turbulent times.

A sustainable business is based on the Organisation and Human Development, which is a combination of the structure, relations and leadership. All the three elements should be developed as a single unit to achieve good results and make the organisation resilient. First of all, the structure of an organisation should be thought out thoroughly, with account for the company’s vision, mission and plans, both mid- and long-term. Correlation between the structure and relations should be based on the people’s motivation and aspirations. Leadership plays a key role in providing sustainability of a business, since it encompasses both relations and structure. Its main purpose is to build trust among people, as well as to establish rapport in order to implement the organisation’s mission and plan.

If any of these requirements is not met, the Organisation and Human Development structure turns into VUCA, an abbreviation for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, which will result in degradation and disintegration. Basically, it is a disaster for the organisation and business in general. The leader is responsible for most of the decisions related to how the organisation would operate. Increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity means that the business leader should identify new goals and take a fresh approach to management. This is the only approach that would ensure positive results in an ever-changing environment, and it is the leader’s duty to bring the situation under control.

One of the highest priorities for a business in a crisis is the well-being of its people. The way we draw conclusions depends on what we pay attention to. Today many people feel depressed and discouraged due to the crisis, but where exactly do their beliefs come from? Like most people, we feel that our viewpoint is rational and logical, basing on many years of experience and an objective analysis. In reality, all of us are susceptible to a tricky problem known as a self-confirmation bias. Our beliefs are in most cases based on the information that is in the spotlight of our attention due to one and only reason – this information is in line with what we believe to be true. At the same time, we tend to ignore the information that challenges our opinion. That is why improving the mindset is the most obvious solution to the problem. Changing one’s attitude towards the crisis makes it possible to find a different route.

Another story is a situation when the world is changing but you are not, doing the same things again and again. It means you are approaching the world with the tools which are no longer relevant. In this case, change and development are necessary, and if you want to get better answers, you should start asking better questions. Ask yourself, what opportunities do you have in the current environment and how can you survive? If you are stuck with your regular to-do list, write down several most important things for the next week that would move you further to reaching your goals. This number of things should be manageable so that you should feel encouraged and motivated on your way to growth.

Some people say that a feeling is something you can control. Just ask yourself every morning, how you want to feel today and what two actions you should take to feel this way. This will create a proper spirit to achieve your goals gradually.

Finally, your mental and health condition should not be neglected, either. It plays a fundamental role in our survival and influences all aspects of our lives. Remember that a self-evolution never happens in a vacuum. Pay attention to the people surrounding you and the environment in general. Communicate with people you want to be inspired by and who will make you become a better version of yourself. The main thing you should remember during turbulent times is that everything is connected. Today we are all in the same boat, with similar difficulties on our way. In order to stay sustainable, we need to protect and be protected by others, which is only possibly through quality relations. In other words, give energy and provide support to others, and they will return you the favour. Analyse your fears and stand together.

The pandemic has demonstrated most convincingly that a rapid change is both possible and pivotal for business survival. Certainly, some more complex challenges will not be solved overnight. But we believe that leaders with drive and determination will eventually overcome everything. This is the idea that underlies the program The Day After created in order to help organisations withstand challenges and thrive in times of crises.

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