A wise man once said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption to life globally. It has touched the life of every human on earth in a scale unparalleled in the modern world. It has also been a great leveller in the sense that everyone has been left vulnerable, irrespective of their social, economic or political standing. While governments, scientists, medical professionals, disaster managers and the like have been busy trying to eke out a strategy to cope with this unexpected and unprecedented scale of impact, most of us lesser mortals have had some time to think and ponder over our past, present and future - not that we were eager to do it.
I am sure a lot of us have learnt a lot and have also made a note of applying these learnings in our lives - some of us are already implementing these. This is my attempt to share my learnings with you, in the hope that some of you will find this useful and will also share some of your learnings with me.
1. Change is the only Constant in Life
This is something that our trainers at GE Capital went to great lengths to drill into us right from the day we joined the company. It has stuck to me since then and I have carried it with me everywhere I went on my professional and personal journeys. It has helped me to be better prepared in dealing with change. I have anticipated change even when there has been no visible sign or remote indication of it. It has helped me absorb and welcome change with a positivity that has helped me to swim with the tide and find my own stream. This pandemic has emphasised this in no uncertain terms. Over the past few years I have participated in helping clients work towards there long term vision and goals. How many person-hours have we all spent debating and shaping that Strategy paper, from the Boardroom down to the Operations floor! But this pandemic has put all those well-thought plans to rest, consigning everything to the bin, at least temporarily. The quicker we accept this reality the easier it will be for us to deal with this change.
Takeaway: Change is the new normal.
2. Every Cloud has a Silver Lining
We witnessed countless incidents where our professional lives and careers were disrupted. A sizeable number of us, if not most of us, were impacted personally. Some of us lost our jobs, while some of us were furloughed, while others still kept wondering about what was next for them. I personally know of quite a few talented souls who were made redundant. Some of them have made their redundancy work for them. They have invested their acquired or inherent skills in setting up their own ventures. I am sure that they will excel as they have chosen a field that they understand and/or are passionate about. This pandemic has provided them an opportunity to implement something they have always wanted to do.
Takeaway: Go for the low-hanging fruits.
3. Agile is not all about Project Management
In the middle of these storm clouds we also witnessed new opportunities that opened up and there were a handful minority of us who decided to take their chances. Who would have thought that face masks and sanitising gels would have been so sought after? Even brewers and distillers switched their traditional production lines as did renowned high street fashion labels. Newer ideas have emerged and been executed by the nimble-footed and the enterprising. Of course there are constraints and the environment is more challenging than ever. But that is where the discerning souls excel. I have always gone to great lengths to try and impress upon my internal and client teams that Agile is beyond a Technology Project Management methodology involving Scrum Masters and Product Owners. It is about adapting to change and achieving results in the swiftest way possible. The most agile amongst us are already relishing this opportunity to turn this whammy into a success. The rest of us should also follow suit. This is what will lead us on to true Transformation of Business Capabilities, Technology and Operations.
Takeaway: Rolling stones gather no moss.
4. The Leaner the Better
How many times have we participated in those Kaizen workshops where the benefits of Lean have been extolled to an awestruck as well as somewhat indifferent audience - the moment they step out of the room they consign everything to the bin and go back to their old ways. This pandemic has shown us that only those players who are Lean and Agile are more probable to survive. The quicker we realise that Lean is not some Management Consulting jargon used to push through multi-million Pounds of sales every year, the better. It has practical usage in our professional and personal lives. After all we have only to benefit by following Lean Principles - whether we intend to adapt and change our corporate supply chains or put our careers back on track. If we are to survive a ship wreck we have to shed the baggage and retain only that is critical for survival.
Takeaway: Concentrate on the 'critical few' instead of the 'trivial many'.
5. Time is Money and Knowledge is Power.
We are all familiar with these two phrases and there is no better time to implement these in our lives. One of the positives that the pandemic has brought about is a surplus of time. Whether it is due to elimination of commuting time or due to lack of any fruitful (or gainful) occupation. I have heard moans about how difficult it is to have the entire family under a single roof twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The answer is simple - put your time to good use. Invest this new found bounty of time to pursue that course that online course which you always wanted to do, but never got an opportunity to. Invest in acquiring complementary or supplementary skills. This is a once-in-a-liftetime-opportunity for most of us and we owe it to ourselves to put it to good use. So it is time to put it to good use and start achieving. This will help us in the short and long runs. This pandemic will not last forever and there are already signs of normalcy returning to our lives. If we have already invested this time to add value to ourselves by way of new skills and knowledge, we shall be better placed to soak in the upturn.