James Burstall is the founder and CEO of Argonon, one of the UK’s largest international independent TV production groups, and author of The Flexible Method: Prepare to Prosper in the Next Global Crisis.
Since Covid threw the world into turmoil we have faced a series of further economic, environmental, and political shocks that have tested our businesses’ resilience.
Being open to new ways of working is now part of our everyday, and steering your company through crises is a key skill of a business leader.
Steer Your Business Through Unexpected Change, using a Flexible Method
Unexpected change will probably involve the accelerated adoption of technology, such as new digital products and services being offered and used. This may require developing new partnerships from your sector or beyond. A crisis could be the trigger to accelerate a switch to new technology and transformative initiatives. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks should be top of your list for automation.
In addition to IT, a flexible mindset is crucial to navigating your business through unexpected change.
As the leader of a team or an organization, you may be faced with no option about whether to change the way you do things – especially during a crisis which can transform your customer base overnight – how they communicate, their pain points, their accessibility. If you don’t adapt, you may find you are suddenly irrelevant to them. Some crises change the marketplace so fundamentally that adapting your operations is no longer enough: you will have to come up with an entirely new business model.
If your business is to survive and thrive, be open-minded to change. And inspire your team to do the same.
You may find that a crisis forces your team to think more creatively and create new solutions. The changes you are forced to adopt may be beneficial in the long term, reducing your overheads and identifying new market opportunities.
Establishing a nimble and open-minded mindset in your team will enable you to be flexible enough to change direction if needed and come out on top.
In fact, you need to act like a start-up.
At Argonon for over a decade we have relied on a crisis management system we call The Flexible Method. Some aspects of it may seem counterintuitive. For example, when disaster strikes, we often instinctively revert to behavior that might seem justified, but which actually damages your organisation in the long-term. You may feel that ringfencing your clients and hoarding resources is the best way to protect your business, but we have found that reaching out to your industry network to share intelligence, experiences and create alliances makes you stronger.
Calm and purposeful leadership is required during a period of drastic change. This involves being humble and being prepared to listen combined with radical determination to carry through decisions.
Crises are especially tough on leaders. Navigating through uncertainty, dealing with heightened expectations, and having to look after everyone else’s mental health heaps extra stress on leaders. That’s why looking after your own wellbeing has become one of the key qualities of a leader.
One thing I have learned is that although painful, crises can actually be good for us. We can turn disasters into opportunities. Handled wisely, crises can be a springboard for growth as you exploit once-in-a-lifetime opportunities offered in a post-crisis landscape.
The Flexible Method: Prepare to Prosper in the Next Global Crisis by James Burstall, available from Amazon and good book stores.
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