Speed trumps accuracy in disruptive times like these

Creativity plays a key role in pushing forward through difficult business times. And though it’s hard to establish some sense of normalcy when it feels like commerce has been flipped on its head, it’s important to remember that there are still ways that we as businesses and consumers can positively impact the outcome.

Educators as an example for much needed creativity

One profession I would like to call out for recognition are the educators of our children. I have to say, in these past few weeks they have been tested to the limit and at very short notice they have really stepped up. Inventing innovative and creative ways to keep our children learning amid the current situation has changed the role of educators forever. And there’s no doubt that it certainly changed the perception of educators as an essential service.

It’s already had an impact on my kids; they’re at their desks every day and I find that they are pushing through their work much quicker. Though this could be a short-lived notion, for now the risk of losing access to their education has made them more focused.

“Any decision is better than no decision, no matter how wrong you are.”

One thing that the actions of our educators has reminded me is that right now speed trumps accuracy. With the amount of data we now have at our fingertips, we have been conditioned to make decisions based 100% on data.

However, the spread of the Coronavirus is teaching us new skills and testing the leadership skills of every politician and business leader. Reacting in split seconds without waiting for the full picture or information is a true test. It can be a bit intimidating, especially in a world where data informs every decision—from the smallest function to the largest strategy. It brings me back to the saying, “Any decision is better than no decision, no matter how wrong you are.”

Personally, I have been through 1987 (Black Monday), 1990 (Iraq War), 1992 (Black Wednesday), 2001 (9/11) and 2007 (Financial Meltdown), but what’s different now is that this is not just a financial crises and likely to be a more protracted period of turbulence. What is interesting, however, is that in every period like this, within 12-18 months, the stock market usually ends higher, meaning business eventually figures out how to move forward again. So, though it feels like we are stuck and all is doom in gloom, in the grand scheme of things that’s just not the case.

For this reason, let’s just think about what’s happening now and how we can positively impact the outcome for our colleagues, family, and community. In situations like this, I have always found Donald Rumsfeld words at the start of the Iraq war very useful: “There are known knowns; there are things we know. We also know there are known unknowns; we know there are some things we do not know.” That being said, let’s take a look at the “known knowns” and the “known unknowns” of our current situation

Known Knowns

  • We need to self-isolate to protect others not just ourselves

  • This turbulent period of time will come to an end

  • Business activity will recover to current levels within the next 18 months

  • The same business problems will remain as a challenge

  • Remote working will most likely be normal for the next 1-2 months

  • Some verticals will be more impacted such as travel, tourism, and hospitality

  • Financially weaker organisations will be impacted the most and consolidation will occur in many verticals

Known unknowns

  • Sadly, the number of colleagues, friends, and family that will be impacted by the illness

  • The length of time this will last

  • The long-term impact on social and business behaviors

  • The level of economic damage that this will create

  • The impact on each family both emotionally and financially

How do we try to continue “business as usual”?

The questions I have started to ask myself are the following: What am I doing to make the most of my time? How can I help keep everyone sane? What must be done to maintain business continuity and not dwell on the inevitable tragedy that will engulf our community? Here’s my personal list:

  • I purchased a treadmill. (Thus, adding to the wider economy and increasing my family’s wellbeing.)

  • I purchased a guitar and online lessons. (This adds to the wider economy and increased the probability one of my children becoming famous and can pay for my retirement—should I even make it that far given my pension fund is now worthless.)

  • I purchased a woodworking workbench and tools to train the kids on some basic wood working skills. (This will teach them life skills and maybe open the door to a potential profession.)

  • I’ve developed a schedule for home working for all the family to attempt to maintain some sense of normality. (This is a great future employment life skill that will benefit my children when they work from home.)

  • I plan to teach the kids at least 2 meals each to prepare from scratch. (Not entirely sure on this one, but I suppose healthier eating will lessen the impact the healthcare system. And it might mean I get a few free meals.)

  • We plan to practice conversations over dinner that do not include bickering. (This will increase the probability of having stable relationships.)

  • Finally, I am going to hold some art classes with the kids. (Again, this is an unknown benefit as I know most artists are wealthier after they die. But at least the fridge art will be plentiful.)

For now, that’s my list, though I would be in interested in hearing any other creative ideas that I could add. Because in times like these, creativity is the key to keeping not only people sane but also keeping business moving.

VP of Sales, North America, Basware