As the eternal optimist and a romantic dreamer, I have had some time over the extended weekend to ponder what may lie ahead for ROQ and many other organisations in the coming months. And more importantly for the prosperity of the country, the many new organisations that will inevitably sprout up on the back of the economic and employment changes that will come into play. I know. The financial crisis in 2008/09 was the perfect trigger to set up ROQ.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Like most business owners at this time, I don’t sleep easy every night and I wake up some mornings dreading the call/email/text from a client asking if they could grab 5 minutes for a “quick chat”. I totally get that business leaders are worried.
The vast majority have put everything into their business; blood, sweat, tears (x 20) and provided the financial impetus when it has been needed the most. Some will suffer a lot – some of those on the back of a rubbish 2019 with the Brexit saga (you remember that one!). I feel for them. I genuinely hope that they are mentally strong enough and have the right support networks to dig deep and come through it.
We have certainly had a few bumps over the last 18 months, but I never stop dreaming of what I want us to be. We set out our 10-year vision back in September. A facilitated exercise of thoughts, ideas, wacky suggestions, doom and gloom, raised voices, pragmatic thinking, optimism….you name it, the typical session where you go around the houses and eventually settle on something that you can convince yourself on and can then convince your team that you are not mad. Clearly, we articulate it as a strategic workshop and all that jazz, but you all know what really happens!
We did that in a controlled environment, with a meeting set-in, weeks in advance, and time for some preparation. But now, for many organisations, the risk is they don’t take the time out to do this properly. They panic – and I have seen lots of signs of panic on various platforms – and don’t sit back and think – how do we press re-set? If we were to start again, what would we do differently and what have we always wanted to do that our current constraints stop us from doing (more mentally, than actually!).
Last week, I had 3 calls with senior executives in my network, and we talked at length around the need for lots of organisations to look at their target operating models. I think this will inevitably happen across a broad spectrum of industries. From the granular process level change, to new markets, new competition, new resource profiling and modelling, new commercial models and many more areas. But without the north star set firm – the vision – this will prove less fruitful. There must be a clear, well thought-out vision, to guide it.
On a personal level, I don’t have the big corporate experience. I’ve sold into many, but not operated within one, so my thoughts may be easier to adopt at an SME level. However, from what I have heard, the nimbleness of thinking and a relaxation of politics in large corporates over the last month, may actually be one of the biggest business benefits to come out of the Covid-19 situation.
The lifeblood of the economy and I suspect more so after the current chaos re-balances, will come from organisations who adapt with ambitious visions, the smartest operating models and bravest leadership. And all these are relative to your size, your industry or your niche.
We should be excited as leaders to face that challenge. We should thrive in this situation – no matter how scary it may appear right now. We got to where we are on some core principles – principles that don’t disappear during or after a crisis. We had ambition once, we can have it again. There may now be scuff marks on the “blank piece of paper” but with a positive outlook you can shape your business again to what you want it to be.
I sincerely hope that we can all reflect positively on this in the next 12-18 months as one of the biggest opportunities we took – one that was caused by pain and anguish, but was solved with clarity of thinking, bravery and supported by our brilliant teams.
We should all wish each other the best of luck in finding that renewed energy and setting the vision, that helps us prosper for a long time to come.
Stephen Johnson, Co-Founder and Director of ROQ