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Continued from Previous……
We have looked at various strategies in this series. In this last part, we sum it up and conclude this discussion.
COVID is a complex event which has affected all segments and facets of life. An untouched area would be hard to find. At individual level, it affected us emotionally, mentally, psychologically, physically, spiritually and financially. Some people took it very seriously, isolated themselves completely, suspended all social activities and literally went into imprisonment. Others took it more lightly. All the same, many precious lives have been lost in this time whose grief shall stay with us. Nothing is settled and clear as yet.
Organizations lost business and lost revenue. They had to abandon expansion plans and instead go into ‘survival mode’. They might have had to part with some long-standing employees and high potential future prospects. The decades old business models changed in weeks and the players rankings were altogether changed in some cases. Some new entrants made the day while the old incumbents kept watching and losing. If it was difficult for individuals to negotiate with this pandemic, it was even more difficult for organizations to cope. Future is not as certain as it used to be.
Countries lost economic growth, GDP and revenue was greatly wiped out. True, the governments could borrow heavily from banks or print new currency notes to distribute, but this is not the whole story. All countries operate internationally and cannot survive by printing currency only. Countries are facing healthcare challenges, food shortages, unrest, along with the danger of COVID spiraling again. As the scale increases, so does the magnitude of issues.
We are not here to advise government; they consider they are beyond advice. We should rather address individuals and possibly, organizations.
We talked about stimulus packages. While the government may be considering devising something, the organizations can do it for their own self on a smaller scale. For example, funds may be diverted from organized segments to boost up a new one; extra cash generation may be considered through flash offers and incentives to trade and even staff; longer duration expansion plans and building structures may be suspended for the time being and funds made available to recover losses as much as possible. In-house stimulus packages are not entirely impractical; these may be considered.
Strategies must be redone in the light of the current ground realities. Since the market is cash strapped, big and audacious plans may be replaced with realistic ones. Strategy discussion at this stage is critical. We know that in most family businesses, strategy stays with the owners exclusively. However, these are not usual times and larger groups with diverse exposure should be involved for new strategy formulation. The guiding principles for strategy would be agility, impact and precision.
We talked about innovation. Traditionally, we are averse to innovation; we are more inclined towards quick-fixes or what is now popularly called ‘Jugaad’. This is not a substitute for innovation, which is a brand-new idea, product, service, technology, or delivery. Jugaad on the other hand is an unconventional method of doing something conventional. Jugaad may be quite successful in some cases but is not applicable universally. In Pakistan, we are mostly looking towards the developed countries for innovation; it will either reach us or we shall replicate it sooner or later. Innovation may not always need heavy funding, but it definitely needs recognition and protection of intellectual property. We are not good at either. But we must encourage innovation.
We talked about technology which we desperately need to bring in. Sadly, we identify technology with reducing the cost of human labor; not with increasing efficiency and accuracy. No technology shall be able to replace human beings in the foreseeable future. We must employ technology to achieve economies of scale and greater competitiveness. The great thing about technology is that it keeps on getting cheaper with time. There is this famous Moore’s Law (Moore is co-founder of Intel), which states that “the processor speed or power shall double, and the price shall become half every eighteen months”. Remember, it is a Law, not a theory. Technology is now more affordable than ever and should be embraced openly.
For individuals as we are, the guiding principles are hope, faith and resilience. Hope that this crisis shall be over sooner or later; Faith that we shall emerge stronger than before; and Resilience to keep marching forward, come what may.
On the belief side, Allah is the Ultimate Provider and He is Benevolent and All-Knowing. We shall not be left alone, InshaAllah.