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Company building and culture

Unprecedented times

Harish Talreja
13th May 2020

Everyone has learnt something new, knowingly or unknowingly, a new skill, a new physical exercise, a new way to calm the mind or a new way to look at things. Write down the worst outcome for you and your family from this crisis”. Then, observe your actual day-to-day progress. If you’re not getting any closer to the worst outcome, you’re doing great, and you’ll come out unscathed.

We are in the midst of a time that’s going to be written in history; times that we haven’t prepared for. Companies that had a business contingency plan in place, small teams working from home and freelancers were better prepared; others with employees on the ground running daily operations have been impacted to a larger extent. This pandemic is the unknown risk that even experts had not foreseen while planning for the future nor predicted by any analytical model. And yet, we are blessed with the ability to recognize the silver lining. We should be grateful and see this as an opportunity to make the most of the time available with us. The irony being that none of these opportunities would have been possible if we would have planned for it.

 We’re reading a lot more than we would, if not working from home.

We’re shopping a lot more for essentials, against discretionary products.

We’re hearing a lot more, from our elected representatives at the state and central governments.

We’re adhering a lot more, to the laws and regulations being put forth.

We’re working a lot more than we would, if it wasn’t for work from home.

We’re optimizing for efficiency a lot more, instead of complaining about the constraints.

We’re upskilling ourselves online, instead of waiting to get to a university.

We’re operating better with technology, instead of blaming the available resources.

We’re innovating a lot more, as necessity keeps calling upon us.

We’re allowing the space around us and within us to breathe a lot better, than we would otherwise. 

These are times to better utilize what we’re saving from the 16 hours of awake-time, as we’re no longer travelling to our workplace or to meetings, nor facing traffic jams and road rage episodes, and whiling away time at airports or stations. The 8 hours of daily sleep no longer seems unattainable. 

Brands and businesses would need to embrace change as they emerge post the crisis and its important for us as individuals to learn during this time. The key here is optimism. All of this is not something we would sit back and appreciate if we were not optimistic and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. To paraphrase what a wise Indian yogi said, “Inside us there is a universe. Outside there is just a world”. Maybe the outside world as we have known so far, would have to change forever, for good. The days of high growth for businesses, focus on profit margins (with sustainability as an afterthought), inflated business valuations, global supply chains will all require a relook? Think about the value for your consumer and build with local resources will need to be the new mantra. Consumers would relate and transact with businesses that focus on sustainability and provide fair value of products and services. Brands will need to communicate about the experience and service and not just the product, across new mediums, if offline retail takes longer to open up as a preferred choice of consumption. Brands will need to rethink their positioning, value proposition and customer acquisition as they come out of this crisis.

A quote that resonates at this time is the famous one by Mahatma Gandhi,

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever”. Everyone has learnt something new, knowingly or unknowingly, a new skill, a new physical exercise, a new way to calm the mind or a new way to look at things.

Here’s something I took away from one of the videos I watched recently, “Write down the worst outcome for you and your family from this crisis”. Then, observe your actual day-to-day progress. If you’re not getting any closer to the worst outcome, you’re doing great, and you’ll come out unscathed. This would be true for most of us reading this as we’re sitting in the confines of our home and are blessed with electricity, internet connectivity, food and water. As Warren Buffet says, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”.

What technology product or service have you started using recently? What else should be optimized for in these times? How would you change your daily routine once you’re permitted to step out for your daily activities?

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