As it appeared in the Daily Nation on July 14th 2020
Dr Lucy Kiruthu
My four-year undergraduate course took five years because of a major students’ strike that led to university closure. I did not think of counting the one year as lost. I kept busy doing some odd jobs. Recently, the cabinet secretary of education asked Kenyans to consider the 2020 school year as lost. This got me thinking, “has 2020 really been lost?” From an education calendar year viewpoint, yes, the year will not count. However, many learners will still learn something new. The life lessons they learn will never be lost!
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact; it has affected both lives and livelihoods. Economically, the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt. Here in Kenya, 2020 is like no other year. Half of the year is gone and already, this new half is full of uncertainties. Nonetheless, the year continues to count, month after month, day after day. Many will remember this year. From a business perspective, the year is likely not to be lost; it is giving businesses a new way of thinking. It will certainly be marked in the history books of several businesses. For some businesses, this year marks an opportunity for a new beginning.
2020 will count as the year when businesses took health and sanitation precautions seriously. We have all witnessed the measures taken to reduce the risk of infection. Some of these measures will likely linger a little longer. It has become our way of life to wash our hands and sanitize more often. In the process, we have prevented many other infections besides COVID-19. Further, this year will also count as the year when many finally embraced working from home. It is a new concept for some businesses and individuals. This will likely remain an option. Staff will have the much-needed flexibility saving many hours used in travel to and from work. This year as such has not been lost.
This year has witnessed a major shift in consumer behaviour. To respond to these changes, businesses have had to make modifications in how they interact with their customers. The growth in the use of digital channels has been at the center of the new innovations during this pandemic. Besides, this year has put to test the leadership of those at the helm of businesses. Many businesses leaders have had to choose between people and profit. In times of the crisis, the empathy of the leader comes to play. It is anticipated that those that have focused more on people over profits will do better into the future. Putting people first is likely to drive long-term profits. This year is not lost, as it has provided many lessons.
Most businesses have had to deal with such a crisis for the first time. Many continue to make adjustments to cope with the situation. New strategies are emerging, and this is allowing a balance between protecting lives and supporting livelihoods. Businesses are becoming more innovative in managing the tight balance between lives and livelihoods. The year 2020 will mark a noteworthy period in our lifetime. Let us make this half of 2020 count, let us learn new ways of doing business! Let us not count 2020 as lost!
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy