We Are All Part of the Crew, No One is Passenger

How to find clearness and the starting point of your business transformation in the current COVID-19 situation.

Attila Tóth

Digital Strategist

We are facing a global scenario that has no play book. Times like these put to test humanity’s perseverance, empathy and altruism. It is uncertain what will happen and we don’t know how to handle it. But, 64 years ago neither did we know how to build a spaceship. There is plenty of negative information that we see on a daily basis related to COVID-19, I promise you, this won’t be another one of them.

Disclaimer: Our team (Cognitive Creators) and my family are taking all the recommended measures by WHO to keep us safe, and so should you. #socialdistancing #workfromhome #surgeonhandwashing

Is fear our friend or our enemy?

It is in our human nature to be afraid of the unknown and actually that’s not a bad thing. It took us where we are today. Is this good or bad, I am not the right person to judge that, but one thing is sure, it helped us survive so far. Yet, in the last century we started to understate fear. Instead of facing our fears, we found new names for it.

Lately we call it stress. Yes, stress is nothing else but good old fear. Fear of not meeting a deadline, fear of not being on time, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of not being good enough. And the list goes on. If we want to be able to change our perspective, we need to admit that we are afraid. Some more, some less, but on a certain level we all are afraid of something and that’s ok. Because, as Christopher Paoling brilliantly put it “without fear there is no courage” and courage is what we all need now. A brave first step where we ask ourselves: what is the thing I can do to help? Firstly, don’t try to save the world, at least not in a way as action figures do. Secondly, I won’t be able to give you an answer, only you can do that, however I can give some guidance. Before I do that I want to set 2 ground rules:

1. Ditch the ostrich strategy
Completely boxing out the negative, or denying there is a global crisis that is impacting our lives, is not only useless, but also it can get you into serious trouble. It simply won't get you closer to finding solutions.

2. Avoid drama
On the other side of the coin there is drama. It is totally pointless to overreact, blowing problems out of proportion. Moreover, it is harmful to you and your family, friends and coworkers, so don’t do it.

We set the rules, now let me guide you through a new perspective.

Understanding how we use parameters to categorize everything

In our daily lives we observe different types of parameters all the time. These help us create categories that show us what belongs where. These categories can be created subconsciously, but also consciously. For example, if you are a swimmer who can swim 50 meters under 21 seconds, your parameters position you in the top Olympic sports category where you train for the gold medal. If you can swim 50 meters between 40 to 45 seconds, you are in the average swimmer category. Let’s say there are different swimming pools for each trainee levels. Neither of these pools is good or bad. Everything depends on your parameters, ambitions and goals. Not everybody has the vocation to become an Olympic sportsman, and it turns out that’s a good thing, we need epidemiologists too!

As my expertise is related to digital business transformation, I can’t give you a complete economic  parameter set, but I can help you understand what I can see through my lens. Here are the 5 pools I have mapped and some examples for each:

Pool 1: Industries that have taken a major hit

Airlines, hotels, restaurants and coffee shops were the first to get a serious blow and they are forced to completely freeze their activities. Lately some automotive brands have also joined this category. Their core business activities are impacted, and cannot generate revenue from these anymore.

Pool 2: Industries that have slowed down

Construction, real estate and the gig economy are slowing down gradually and will continue to decrease.

Pool 3: Industries that can continue their work with some adjustments

Financial institutions, software companies and other digital service providers have changed to full or partial home office work and can continue their activities.

Pool 4: Industries that must continue their work no matter what

Those who work in agriculture, food, medicine and healthcare need to change to a higher gear and need to carry on with their jobs, as they are critical in sustaining society. These industries got help already from the governments and will be protected during the crisis.

Pool 5: Industries that are being escalated

Those who are riding the wave as we speak: the commerce of local convenience stores, home delivery service, online streaming services. The industries which offer products and solutions that are matching the growing demand generated by social distancing.

Know where you are and act accordingly

Each box has its own set of challenges that you must tackle. According to the pool you find yourself in, the obstacles are particularly different that you have to defeat.

Pool 1: Industries that have taken a major hit

Focus on survival, but do it in a way that shows your values. The crisis will end and people will remember what you did and how you acted in dire straits.

Pool 2: Industries that have slowed down

Keep in mind that it will become worse, before it gets better and find alternatives to your current core competencies, some that in the short term could become your primary source of cash flow.

Pool 3: Industries that can continue their work with some adjustments

Your job is to save the world, innovate and come up with new ideas that help Pool 1 and Pool 2 industries. And not only help them to survive, but to pivot from their existing business models. Moreover, take action in helping Pool 4 players to transform their activities in a way that is sustainable in the current economic framework.

Pool 4: Industries that must continue their work no matter what

You are in a tough position, make sure to use your energy wisely and direct your effort where there's the most need for it. Accept relevant help and keep your customers safe.

Pool 5: Industries that are being escalated

Focus on ethics and values over profit. Although it's clearly your time to rule the market, don't become greedy. Plant the seeds of a lasting brand, one that will keep on growing even when circumstance turn back to normal.

Be patient, we are building a new spaceship. "We are all a crew, no one is a passenger on spaceship Earth."

Marshall McLuhan

No matter the pool you are in, your job is to take responsibility and start taking action. The results won’t be visible in a day or two, but if we shift our minds from the negative and focus on the things we can change to make a better tomorrow, we are going to get there. Together we are building a new spaceship, so be patient, but also be persistent. We all need each other, more than ever before. We are all in this together, so let’s join our forces and build spaceship Earth 2.0.

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