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The Plus Side of the Pandemic

Posted on the 03 May 2021 by Alanhargreaves @RechargeToday

The Plus Side of the Pandemic

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The Plus Side of the Pandemic
Harnessing Urgency

Just prior to Covid I came across this quote from Oliver Sachs on to the nature of a near-death experience: “There is an intense sense of immediacy and reality, and a dramatic acceleration of thought, perception and reaction, which allows one to negotiate danger successfully.” 

Looking back over the last year, those words resonate. I have seen many a business completely reinvent itself. Historic management practices have been turned upside down. Solutions to immediate problems have come from corners of the firm where, previously, no one would have looked. Profit generation has emerged in places once regarded as cost centres. 

Even where such change might have been foreseen, it was expected to arrive at a more evolutionary pace. This was different. The pandemic rapidly converted anxiety into action, forcing us to dramatically disrupt ourselves as we searched for the new normal, and for many, survival.

The Plus Side of the Pandemic
Are we there yet? 

It highlights the power of urgency and why we should maintain it. There are no signs of a slowdown in technological development. Online commerce might have boosted sales but optimising it can often require a revolution in procurement processes and inventory management. In turn, that opens up avenues of further digitisation and opportunities to use everything from AI to machine learning to do more with what you’ve already got.

No one is immune. Take two firms, one a service business, the other a manufacturer.

The former is Amazon. Originally a bookseller, it quickly saw it could sell everything. Recently it became a logistics company, processing and delivering more quickly than just about anyone. More recently still — in the middle of the pandemic — its cloud services grew to generate over half of its revenue.

The Plus Side of the Pandemic
Then there’s GM. Deconstruct the price of a car and you find the engine amounts to significantly less than 20% of the cost. Whatever the vehicle, it also requires a massive range of components, plus wheels, axles, tyres, chassis, bodywork, trim, upholstery, windscreens, operating systems, R&D charges, marketing, financing options, sales networks and dealer margins. Changing the engine to electric isn’t that dramatic. You even eliminate some costs. EVs don’t need a gearbox, so you can drop the whole transmission thing. In 2019, few manufacturers were selling electric vehicles. Post Covid, it’s hard to think of one that doesn’t. There are signs of that reset on the stock market. Since the beginning of this year, Tesla’s share price has fallen 20% from its peak. Over the same period, GM has risen more than 30%.

So, what can you do?

The Plus Side of the Pandemic
The most successful riders of this storm have been those who saw what had to be done and harnessed the urgency to get it done. Conditions were shifting but if you could get to the front of the pack, you had a greater chance of staying there. 

Change rarely comes in the right order. The word ‘agile’ might be a cliche, but it’s central to that question at the core of self-disruption: what else can you do with what you’ve got? 

Don’t stop asking it just because you’ve got the jab.

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