There are many stories of gloom about the future of businesses in the post-COVID-19 environment, but equally, there are stories that promise hope for the future. We are nothing if not positive about our world and our ability to continuously innovate and create an environment for success. While this can come unstuck if the optimism is not grounded in reality, it is this attribute, which will bring us through the threat and challenge posed by the current pandemic.
It is always encouraging to see stories about survival in the face of challenges, which have three key things in common:
- Resilience in the face of adversity
- Innovation in the face of new challenges
- Adaptation in responding to long term change
We often talk about resilience but what does it really mean? It can mean maintaining equanimity in the face of disaster. It can also mean not looking back but continuing to set a positive course against adversity. It is about perseverance. Companies that are resilient have the best chance of succeeding in the medium to long-term.
However, being resilient does not mean being stubborn or short-sighted. Disasters like the current pandemic can often expose problems in business strategy and the structure of a business, which are often overlooked in times of plenty. Business models based on the world in 2019 will be tested and put under considerable strain given the drastic changes to the economy in the past six months. This is where adaptation becomes so important for a business. Understanding the change in demand for products or services and to make changes to business models quickly and efficiently will be vital for survival in the short to medium-term and for sustainability in the long-term.
The slowdown in the global economy is likely to be worse than the Global Financial Crisis the world experienced 12 years ago. The pandemic has driven nations into lockdown and communities into isolation, resulting in unprecedented loss in demand for products and services, employment, disruption in supply chains and international trade. Current geo-political challenges resulting especially from US-China relationship, and the fragile state of the WTO and other international organisations are exacerbating this situation.
Mitigating these challenges requires new ways of operating. This could mean diversifying into new growth markets and identifying new supply chains, all of which can provide flexibility and access to new opportunities.
In markets like South East Asia and India, this will require building new connections and business relationships. This will not come easily with restricted international travel, which forces business and relationships to be built over digital platforms using video and teleconferencing. Adapting to relationships across a computer screen requires an understanding, sensitivity and appreciation of culture to be successful.
The fractured international environment and forced isolation has also disrupted outsourcing models of business operations. This will require innovate solutions to business operations which could include closer contact of the workforce with home base.
EastWest Advisers is presenting a new program for companies operating in the Australia-Asia region, covering all of the issues discussed here, and more. Called Adapting to Succeed ©, the program will bring together thought leaders and experts in the fields of trade and investment, to discuss and unpack current challenges faced by businesses and identify ways to leverage their resilient foundation to innovate and thrive. Adapting to Succeed © will involve a structured and thorough & action-provoking series of webinars and masterclasses for those leaders and organisations faced with current and future challenges.
Register below or contact EastWest Advisers (email@example.com) to be the first to hear about the Adapting to Succeed © program.
Michael is a Director at EastWest Advisers. He is a former senior executive of Austrade and has held the positions of senior trade commissioner to South Asia and South East Asia. He is a Fellow of the Australia India Institute.