Crisis Champions: Captivate

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

There’s a need to be action oriented in a crisis. We need to get a lot done in a hurry.

But, there is danger in haste, if actions are taken at the expense of due consideration. The team and the organisation will loose out.

There is a need for fast efficient decision making protocols, which still allow an appropriate level of input and collaboration. I’m sure we’d all agree its not time to be sitting in circles, holding hands, physically or metaphorically. Yet if we do not operate from a perspective of empathy and care, we will make decisions that may well yield short-term gain, but cause medium term damage. This happens if we don’t consult and collaborate; we don’t leverage the collective intelligence and experience around us. The result is we alienate those who are there to help. When our teams feel trusted and in on the tactics, they own the actions and implement well. Teddy Roosevelt said it best; “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

This principal does not only stop at our teams, it is true for all stakeholders, including suppliers and customers. A level of empathy and awareness of their challenges allows an opportunity to respond in a way that builds mutual benefit. There will be many long-term relationships built on mutual trust that will be birthed in this time of crisis. They will transcend this season and stay solid when we’re all looking to grow again.

Amit Ray, said “In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path - the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.” I like that, it’s not a soft sentiment as it takes courage to stay true to such values. Whilst this may sound altruistic, it has very real commercial outcomes.

In another crisis I went through many in the fashion and textile industry, were struggling. We had pivoted, ironically given this crisis, to offshore supply and high design product. It had worked well as we were growing fast, and ahead of the trend curve. But aware that many of our local suppliers were struggling I suggested to my CFO that we pay our bills early to help their seasonal cash flow. It was met with the silent CFO stare, and 43 reasons why this was fiscally irresponsible. However, given our cash situation was strong, it would be of marginal cost. So, I wrote a letter and sent out the money. It said, words to the effect of, Dear Supplier, thanks for all you do for us, and we know its tough out there, so we’re paying you early. I was inundated with suppliers wanting to do more business. Guess who got the next round of best designs and support? I fielded some calls from competitors who didn’t seem quite as impressed.

So should you pay your bills early? That’s not what I’m saying, and it’s something I’ve only done on scale once. What I’m saying is, think about your suppliers, your customers, what are they going through? Have some empathy and show some care, you will get better, more innovative insights. I’ve found that the Golden Rule, articulated by that troublesome Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, still holds true. “Treat others, as we would like to be treated”. So simple, so profound, and as it turns out, so commercial.