Pedalling into the wind

Pedalling into the wind
Published: 15 September 2020

Last week, I was joined by Richard Denney, Commercial Director at Crown Commercial Services and we enjoyed a very pleasant if not rather breezy 30-mile bike ride. We took the opportunity to reflect on the challenges and shifting landscape of the past six months.

Like any classic Tour de France stage, you had the early breakaway with organisations well versed to deal with the early challenges of COVID-19. You saw en masse organisations shift to working from home, with those with a well-established remote working culture already in place, taking the early lead.  It also provided a catalyst for real and lasting change for a number of businesses who spotted the opportunity to take advantage and adapt their business model and offering to suit the conditions.

You then have the peloton; taking a collective approach based on safety in numbers, knowing that they’ll be able to catch up with the breakaway group. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a number of CPOs during the past six months who all discussed a raft of similar challenges, some adapting slightly faster than others, but in the main looking around to see what their competitors were doing and what they could learn as a collective whole from outside their sectors.

Many good practices have emerged from the past six months, many of which wouldn’t have come into play had companies not had their hand forced to change. I’ve also heard of great examples of managers who perhaps have gone under the radar, suddenly emerge and show tremendous leadership capability.

Sadly, we have also seen many organisations struggle and have been scooped up by the broom wagon as their markets have vanished overnight or have struggled to adapt to the new-normal. Many will live to fight another race, but some, due to market conditions or poor leadership will struggle to recover.

Like riding in the wind, the last six months have been brutal and relentless. It's crucial to have a well-executed plan to counter the effects of a head or cross wind. Just like in business the execution of the plan and the agility to alter your plan during the journey is imperative to succeed and thrive.

You’ve got to react quickly to the conditions; get your head down, word hard and smart in equal measures, knowing that you will soon turn the corner and experience the joy of a tail wind and better days ahead.

Richard Guest is a Consultant in the Procurement and Supply Chain Practice.

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