In the three years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have been hit by a wave of crises – recession, financial shocks, war in Ukraine, the energy and cost of living price hikes. They are coming at us so thick and fast that Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2022 is “permacrisis”. In future we need to prepare for further threats ranging from disruptive technologies like Al, climate change and organised cybercrime.
Dramatic shifts are now happening so quickly that we have to adapt constantly as new opportunities arise or changes as the external context renders your tried and tested ways of doing things obsolete.
A crisis can transform your customer base overnight – how they communicate, their pain points, their accessibility. You may have to create whole new ways of working and a new set of clients.
If you don’t adapt, you may find you are suddenly irrelevant to them. You can read the growing list of companies that failed to adapt on the tombstones of corporate history.
As an independent group, Argonon is used to pivoting. Large bureaucratic entities can often be less nimble. Changes have to go through multiple layers and levles of approval making them also impossible to implement in reality..
The crisis management system we call The Flexible Method stood us in good stead during the pandemic. It was first developed during another existential crisis, the 2008 Credit Crunch. I believe other industries are going to have to adopt similar ways of thinking that are perhaps not currently in their DNA.
So whilst start-ups dream of being big businesses, big businesses need to start acting like a start-ups if they are to survive change.
This involves being open to new ways of working, a willingness to change your business practices and be flexible, reacting as the situation evolves. Establishing a nimble and open-minded mindset in your team will enable you to be flexible enough to change direction if needed and come out on top.
So what have we learnt through navigating a myriad of crises over the years?
In a crisis, when innovation is a matter of survival don’t worry about perfection — just try something new, put it out there, adapting as you learn and grow.
Take imperfect action. Creativity is often a messy, iterative process.
Don’t be scared of bad ideas either. In my experience, people who don’t have bad ideas don’t come up with any good ones either.
In fact, not changing and clinging to routine are much more worrying to me than change. Change is good. A crisis sometimes just accelerates a development you would probably have got around to eventually, such as the use of technology. They force you to think more creatively and create new solutions that may be beneficial in the long term, reducing your overheads and identifying new market opportunities.
And finally, when you do go for it, you have to overcome self-doubt, trust in your abilities and have the passion, hunger and drive to make it happen. They are the qualities that every start-up entrepreneur needs to be successful.