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‘Just in time’, ‘just in case’, or ‘just as before’?

May 20, 2024 by Alistair Enser

What are your 3 Success Goals going forward?

Understandably, I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks talking about the pandemic. In putting together their week’s article I asked myself whether it would be interesting to talk about business instead. Who knows, it could a refreshing departure from the usual subject!

As things being to normalise, while we have to keep one eye on the output of the pandemic and the associated changes, we also have a responsibility to ourselves and our businesses to not forget general good business practice and leadership.

Yet there is so much going on at the moment that makes effective management difficult. Many businesses are taking difficult and sometimes contradictory choices in getting people back to work. I read this week of a German engineering firm that insists on weekly testing of all employees, from the CEO to the cleaners, raising as many questions as it would appear to answer. Here in the UK, there are concerns about the data protection consequences of test and trace, while for many businesses, planning for the necessary social distancing in the workplace is proving a major headache.

Running on empty

As business leaders, we need to take a step back and plan for the future. Dare to be bold- yes, think differently -yes, but plan, prepare, practice and deliver.

We cannot be sucked into a position where we are just following events. In the current crisis, everyone has pulled together brilliantly. Most people can work for a short term in a crisis term, finding additional reserves of energy and dedication to work under new pressures.

But as military officers, sports managers, lead surgeons and others who lead high performing teams of individuals in pressurised situations will confirm, it is impossible to continue this type of working approach day in, day out, into the longer term. Doing so is more likely to result in failure than success. There has to be a healthy balance between comfort, stretch goals and crisis.

Focus and determination

If you are not already doing it, now is the time for business leaders work to re-evaluate and identify the three things they should focus on in over the next few months, and over the next few years. If not there is a danger they could be distracted by the noise that is enveloping us at moment. As with many things in life, focus and determination are a powerful combination for success. We can’t control the environment, we can’t control our competitors, but we can control our own performance, which will stack the odds in our favour. As business conditions improve and many open the doors once again, businesses with the clearest vision, the best plans, and fastest out of the blocks will undoubtedly have a higher chance of success.

Equally, let’s not bite off more than we can chew. A little stress can be a good thing; ‘crazy’ aspirational goals as well as solid targets can provide challenges which, in turn, drive unlimited thinking and performance, but ultimately, we all have resource and budgetary limits.

Given all the changes that have happened over the last few months, it will be vital to revisit your ‘boundaries’. Many people and businesses have achieved the impossible. They have discovered they can do more than they think in the last few months, such as reinventing their working practices overnight,  so old limitations may now be opportunities. On the other hand, some things which we have always done may now be very difficult.

Necessity is the mother of invention, said Plato, and he wasn’t wrong! We have been in a fast-changing world for a number of years, but now we are in a changed world – and with change comes great opportunity.

Think clearer, plan better, adapt faster

At Reliance High Tech we started this journey with three simple questions:

  1. What were we good at in the past (pre-COVID-19)?
  2. What has changed as an output of COVID-19?
  3. What will the future look like and what do we need to be good at in the future?

Our horizon for ‘Fit for a future’ isn’t next month, or next year, but stretches our view to five years, ten years or even twenty years out from now. Looking forward and asking questions about the world we will live in then allows us to work backwards and start building a bridge to the future now.

The exercise, though ongoing, has been valuable and is already pointing to things we should be doing now. It has also confirmed many of the decisions we have made to date, such as investing in the skills and accreditations that allow us to embrace technology that will only become more prevalent in years to come. But it is also offering up tantalising opportunities that may not appear this year, or next, but we believe will be key to our future in ten or even twenty years’ time.

At Reliance High-Tech, we want to create history, not be a part of it. Now is the time for all business leaders to set new goals. As Steve Jobs said, they must ‘dare to think different’.  Because if the pandemic has forced many businesses to pivot their focus from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’, it’s important that they don’t simply revert to ‘just as before’.