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Lighting up the way ahead

misty woods light ahead

How a change of focus can help us move beyond the challenges of the pandemic

By Graeme Gordon, Praxity CEO

Walking the dog on a misty morning in the English countryside is not the obvious place to hit on a way forward for global business resilience.

It was the changing light. It got me thinking about how we adjust our focus when everything changes around us. And how this impacts our business decisions.

In October, it’s still dark here in the UK when I take my dog Merlin for his early morning walk during the week. He needs a flashing collar and I need a strong torch to navigate the amazing carpet of red, gold and green leaves that camouflage a myriad of tree roots and stones, which are explicitly placed to trip the unwary.

 

Narrow vision

Last weekend, after the clocks had gone back an hour here, the sun was already up when we set off on our walk. We didn’t need any extra light to see our way forward. Yet, I found that I was still walking with my head down, looking at the ground a few yards in front of me, where the torch light would have been. Don’t get me wrong, those pesky tree roots and stones were still hiding to catch the unwary, but with daylight, they we much easier to spot well in advance and thus to avoid.

So, I took a moment to stop and look around. I could see right across the valley of the river Thames to the escarpment on the other side. I could see the stately home, Cliveden, to my left in the middle distance and even Windsor far beyond this. There was a slight mist over the river which made it look quite enchanting, and at that point, the sun broke through the clouds and a lovely red glow showed in the sky.

 

Magical light

The whole thing was magical and I slowly breathed in the clear, fresh air. And yet, I could have missed it had I continued to look down at the ground in front on me. This struck me what a metaphor this is for the position we find ourselves in today in the middle of a pandemic.

We are all too prone, I suspect, to concentrate on the immediate future – the next few days and weeks. Focusing on the many short-term challenges the pandemic presents is of course prudent, if not essential.

Nonetheless, I do believe that this pandemic will end!

From the beginning, we have had people saying it will be all over by the autumn, and now by Christmas, but we know this is almost certainly not true. Not this Christmas anyway.

 

Eyes on the future

However, it will be over at some time. We will, in time, have developed a vaccine, of that I am sure. We may not eradicate the virus, but like the flu, we will learn to both live with it and overcome it. People will develop immunity. This is not just blind hope, it is the way our history over centuries has unfolded.

Therefore, as well as ensuring we have a bright torch to light up darkened paths, we desperately need to look further ahead and put in place measures for long-term business resilience.

Look to the period beyond the pandemic, to what McKinsey rightly call the ‘next norm’. Take time to breath that air, and to ensure your teams are looking forward with hope and not still going forward, eyes cast downwards in doubt.

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