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Being pessimistically optimistic about business post coronavirus

business-post-corona-virus

This post is by Dr Lee Styger, currently  the  Academic  Director  for  External  Engagement  at  the  Sydney  Business  School,  University of Wollongong.    

Who would have seen this coming?   Well actually……. But enough of that, as of now, I am extremely pessimistic about the current situation we find ourselves in, but that said, I am extremely optimistic about the vast new opportunities that are opening up to us moving forward.

Now that the dam has broken and the flood of total systems change is still washing over us, we have to come to a startling point of acceptance, that we are never going back to business as usual.  As of now, every one of us is in a new world market and we need to work out rapidly what our new world space is going to be.

In the light of this, all the “conversations” and calls to action to run fast to recover lost ground once this Tsunami has subsided have about as much chance of success as putting a blindfold on, running head long across an eight lane highway and expecting to make it safely through the front doors of your new work space on the other side.

You have to ask yourself  “Do you feel lucky?”  “Well do you?”

Evidently, there is a new game in town.  It is no longer about recovering ground or recovering lost time in an old world market place.  Today, the new new game is about accepting that the clock is now reset to zero and our task and indeed our responsibility is designing our future in a new world order where the only current constant is perpetual transition – transition of customers, transition of markets, transition of products.

How we master this transition will be determined by one single factor – how we master the perpetual transition of the talent within our ecosystems.

On the run up to all of this, many of the professional organisations I was working with and particularly their members who were made up of pivotal knowledge based professionals, were in a phase of reinvention and redesigning their future relevance.  This was often based on an unspoken desire to find certainty in an uncertain world.

Based on our current position we doubtless look back fondly to just a couple of months and wish once again for the certainty of those former times.  Alas, we are where we are and we need to move forward and to do so we have a simple choice to make, but the repercussions of that choice will be profound.  We can either ask ourselves do we feel lucky and place our bet on the entire world economic system re-establishing itself soon and in the identical format to how we left it, or we can ignite a love affair with uncertainty and begin to design our new new opportunity.

Like it or not, love it or not, this situation has proven to many of us that we can pivot in a nanosecond, implement a five year technological revolution in our business within a week and inject unimaginable levels of autonomy into our people in a heartbeat.  At the same time, we can see the old leviathans follow biblically prescribed protocols of survival in uncertain times, where they surrender, or more often desert, long held strategic positions, making these leviathans vulnerable into the future and offering an open door policy to any disruptors and fast movers ready to walk through.

Put simply, when was the last time your entrenched competitors offered you their market position for free?

So what are you going to do about it?  Move forward and take that position by implementing the new new thing that will establish dominance in a new world order, or try to hang around long enough in blind faith that the old world order will return and it can be business as usual.  And we all know how much fun business as usual was in the old world don’t we?

So that’s enough “Applehood and Mother Pie”, but where to from here?  The simple solution is  targeting the gap, not where you and your competitors are now, or where you think you are now, but precisely where you (and the others) are not today, because this is the ground that was surrendered in the last couple of months.

Then, with a very clean canvas, picture how you are going to fill that gap remembering that you have just proved that you and your organisation can pivot in a nanosecond when there is the appetite to so do.

We make our own luck and what a great place to be, because the system is disrupted and willing, waiting and wanting new active and dominant players.  Optimistically I would say we are facing a generational opportunity, where there is no rule book.  You have to ask yourself do you feel lucky?  Well do you?

This article was first published in First5000 on April 27, 2020

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Dr Lee Styger is currently the Academic Director for External Engagement at the Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong. His responsibilities include bridging the gap between industry and academia to facilitate active collaboration. He is also responsible for the delivery of transformational educational programs to Executive Clients. Lee has had a distinguished career in commercial innovation and new product development and also economic regeneration in Europe and Asia.

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