WHICH 4 THINGS WOULD YOU LIKE TO RETAIN #postCOVID19?
Consulting will become hugely important when the complex post-crisis negotiations begin. Many people will lose their jobs, factories will close – new social planning with unions and solutions for the economy will be necessary. The summer will be quiet, but we’ll be working day and night come the fall. We are the first port of call when negotiations reach a deadlock – and it is exactly at this point that our insight and expertise is required. There will be many start-ups on the market at bargain prices and no end of M&A transactions.
What have I learned as a founder and entrepreneur? What will I retain post-COVID19?
We are a leading, internationally positioned company with offices in Zurich, New York City, Hong Kong and Dubai. And it was by remaining in direct contact with our people in Hong Kong that we were able to closely monitor the crisis unfolding in China. Unfortunately, I underestimated the speed and impact of this crisis, which led to delays in preparing our online workshops. We are now first in position to see the economic upturn in China, and are thus able to prepare for new business faster. After the crisis, we’ll push for more exchange between countries and encourage a more comprehensive communication strategy. We’ll begin by holding global meetings where we can all come together in one place; the most likely location will be Dubai. But first we need to get ‘back to normal’.
We'llbe able to evaluate early warning signs quicker and more effectively after the crisis. The sheer amount of work and success that we had at the time made it difficult for me to evaluate the warning signs from China to the extent necessary. There will be ‘red flags’ in the future, and every team member will be asked to raise those flags at the first sign of trouble and inform me immediately and insistently.
Unlike most other companies, I didn’t set a positive signal along the lines of “we’ll get through this together and come out of it stronger” at the beginning of the crisis. I communicated the seriousness of the situation, spoke openly and clearly with all employees, and took any necessary action immediately. This meant that we had to make the severe but, in my opinion, necessary decision to lay off several people, including some who had been with us for many years. Open and honest communication is indispensable and something we’ll certainly be keeping.
Play to win
Admittedly, I wasn’t feeling very much like playing to win during the first weeks. I went through the 2008 financial crises as a start-up without financial reserves – a challenging experience – but this crisis was even more challenging because of its unpredictability. Whenever I enter one of these thoughtful phases, I read autobiographies or watch movies about successful people. I watched ‘Inside Bill’s Brain’ on Netflix recently, in which Bill Gates says in an interview that he always asks himself in difficult times what he can do. He says there are two possibilities: give up or work harder. Such interviews motivate me, changing my thoughts back to playing to win and working even harder. I would like to switch to this ‘positive thinking mode’ even quicker.