The New Normal: Adapt Adopt until you become Adept!
Many a business finds itself in challenging situations because the pre-COVID-19 customers, suppliers and work skills that they relied upon are simply not available and in many cases not there at all. Many of the old skill bases that were needed to run businesses depended on paradigms that have been collapsed by the pandemic and will take time to rebuild. Banks are having to reschedule loans; landlords have adjusted terms just to be able to keep their tenants. If they let them go and stuck to contract terms, they would not be able to get other tenants for the property, at least for the short term. The lack of customers and the changes in consumer priorities are forcing businesses to rethink their business models and develop strategies for new products, services and service delivery that fit into the new normal environment.
What does this mean for the average business? I call it “average” business, not because the business small, big or medium sized, but because every business must have a core strategy for survival that enables success. The average business will be thinking about the “basics” before it moves to thinking about competitiveness, growth and market share. In other words, the average business must first of all continue to exist before it can thrive in the future. The average business must adapt, adopt and become adept at meeting the demands of the New Normal. While most people will think of this as a short-term measure, it is a major organization success competence. James Oliver Rigney Jr, the American author said, “The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived”. When I put the question to a business seminar on which organizations would survive in the New Normal, 75% respondents said those that were flexible and open to restructuring, this was against options that included “innovation”, “customer focused” and “financially secure”.
The business responses of the organizations described in the first paragraph do not make conventional business sense and rescheduling loans is not a profit generating activity. However, in the circumstances it does appear not only prudent, but very wise. Indeed, these businesses have bought themselves time while acting to reposition themselves in the New Normal market. As they adapt to the new conditions, they will adopt practices that will become part of their organization competencies, business repertoire, knowledge base and understanding of the market. In time they will become adept and gain superior and competitive skills at profiting from these sacrificial adjustments. They will succeed in the long term because they were willing to adapt, adopt until they became adept!