Flexibility is Key

As it appeared in the Daily Nation on April 28th 2020
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu

In mid-March, GAP clothing started manufacturing personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) such as masks and gowns. I am certain that this was nowhere in their wildest dreams. This year is unlike many other years we have witnessed. Businesses across the globe have faced considerable disruption. Some have shut down, others have had to rethink their operations, yet others are thriving. As I continue to reflect on the times we are living in, I am convinced that flexibility has never been as important as it is today. As a business trait, flexibility has come in handy for many and its lack strangled others. It is likely that only those businesses that are flexible enough will successfully meander through the crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. How easily has your business adapted to the current situation?

Being flexible in business means being ready to adapt and respond swiftly to changes happening around us. In the last two months, the number of changes that businesses have had to adjust to are many. When the president takes the podium to address us his fellow Kenyans we are often not sure what new directives will be given. Business operation hours have changed, working from home has been encouraged and movement across boarders has been curtailed. Some businesses have embraced these changes and are making the best of the situation. Services that never existed before have been introduced; products that we could have otherwise imported are being produced locally. We know that being rigid is not good for business. Has your business been flexible enough?

Being flexible also means being on the lookout for unexpected business opportunities. For example, a few days ago, Twiga food in partnership with Jumia launched home deliveries for fresh fruits and vegetables. Previously, the company had positioned itself as a technology company linking farmers and vendors but today it is going beyond the vendor to the consumer. A month ago, I envisaged this as an opportunity. Every business must pay attention to changing consumer behaviours and identify resulting opportunities. Many businesses have done so already, unfortunately, many have not adjusted in line with the new opportunities. What new opportunity has your business identified recently? Have you taken advantage of the opportunity?

Finally, today’s flexibility is also being displayed by how employees are supporting their businesses to cope with the changes. It is not easy to work from home but some are doing so productively. Others are helping identify creative ways of doing business to reach out to their consumers. Instead of complaining about that which is not within our control, we can do our part by demonstrating a greater degree of flexibility in how we work to ensure the survival of our businesses post COVID-19. How have you assisted your company in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? What new ideas have you come up with? An adage alludes to being flexible so that we do not get bent out of shape. The same is true of businesses. Every smart business must choose to stay flexible. Some businesses have already started reimaging post-COVID-19 and they are ready to keep evolving!

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy

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