Episode 18 – Growth Mindset & Opportunities

Ep18 – Growth Mindset & Opportunities in COVID-19 Era

By – partner
30.03.20 08:53 AM

Can we have a growth mindset amidst shuttered businesses & lockdown? How should brands respond to the COVID-19 crisis?

Based on answers I recorded for S02E02 of Grow Your Brand Podcast hosted by Lauren Kress, I am releasing the full version of the recording here.

These are the links I refer to in the recording:

Marketers perspective on how to deal with the crisis

The unwritten rules of video conferencing from home

“We’re not going back to normal” by Technology Review

“The heart of resilient leadership: Responding to COVID-19” by @Deloitte Insights

#DigitalTransformation #DX #Leadership #opportunity #Challenges #Marketing #growthstrategy #growthmarketing

Image credit: Excelsior College

Episode transcript – Growth Mindset & Opportunities

Is it feasible and worthwhile to have a growth mindset in a time like this?

Absolutely. People, business leaders, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, everyone should always have a growth mindset. I believe it stems from having a positive attitude towards life, towards challenges, and most importantly, it’s a drive to move forward.

Having said that, the current crisis is not one of our own making and it is for now, a reality, it’s our reality, imposed on us. And with it comes reduced revenue, reduced cash flow and other major concerns such as business continuity plans, and most importantly, how to deal with an organisation’s staff.

The Australian economy is primarily SMB (65% if memory serves), 10 to 15 employees. When everything is on lockdown, hospitality, service vendors, etc… they all take a hit. A friend of ours in the hospitality business in South Australia is already at the brink of bankruptcy. It’s painful to hear and see. Look at what’s happening to the airline industry, and these are some major corporations. So, a growth mindset can only be applied, in my opinion, to what organisations can do this instant, this day, this week.

For example, assuming an organisation is not on the brink of bankruptcy, why not deal with that to do list that has been on your desk for the last year or 2? Or better yet, all the elements from the “urgent important matrix”, sometimes referred to as the “Eisenhower decision matrix”, why not deal with some of the important but not urgent tasks?

I believe organisations have a great opportunity, for the next couple of weeks (hopefully no longer) to look inwards and try and make improvements in preparation for the recovery. By eliminating those pesky tasks that have been lingering for a while, an organisation can be much better prepared when normality returns and the focus would be on outwards activities, like customer relations, business development, network building, events, meetings, travel, etc…

So for now, hunker down, focus inwardly on internal growth and success, make sure you follow all the guidelines from State and Federal governments, health and otherwise. Additionally, keep track of what stimulus packages they have on offer so that organisations can apply for them ASAP.

For individuals out there with some extra time: READ! Books or just go online, find the topics that interest you and read. Or better yet, find some new topics to explore. Maybe you’re exploring a career pivot so assimilate new knowledge. Or learn a new language, use the Duolingo app. Why not? With social distancing, there are lot of people that would be willing to have a chat. I speak 5 languages so I’m helping my business partner learn French. Win win!

Use this time to “grow” intellectually, if not financially.

One warning though: do not let this crisis pull you down, force you into “hibernation” or turn you into a recluse. Yes, we must follow the recommendations, guidelines and rules set out by our government. But we should not let this crisis take over from us or let ourselves be ruled by fear, or by other people.

What is the role of small business, corporate enterprise and government in coping with the unprecedented disruption we’re currently facing? How can brands responsibly inform their customers and respond to their changing needs?

These questions are on everyone’s mind, which is why I wrote an article and posted it on my LinkedIn on Friday. I’ll share the link with you all. I voiced my opinion as to how organisations, of all sizes, could deal with the COVID-19 crisis, and beyond, from a marketing perspective. I would invite you and your listeners to check it out for more details. (Link)

But in short, I suggested that our “normal” behaviours have all been disrupted. Our lives, our norms and values, everything is being tested. Organisations needs to show empathy in that regard, both because it is morally and ethically correct, but also because I believe it’s good business.

In the previous question about growth mindset & opportunities, I recommended looking inwardly, getting rid of some of these tasks on your to-do list, as an organisation or as an individual. Other “business management” ideas to look inwardly on now could be:

–   Look at your processes, look at your digital solutions, look at your eTools and see what needs improvement. Talk about them with your team, with IT, engage with consultants or managed service providers, why not run a couple of design thinking sprint, innovate and ideate, start working on these new solutions, even if cash is low. Maybe you can negotiate a deferred payment scheme, or 90-day payment terms. I’m sure the consultants, like myself, and other businesses are in the same boat and would rather continue working with businesses instead of being completely inactive, again, following the health guidelines from the government and making sure staff are not put in harm’s way

–   Activate learning and development programs for employees now when the workload may be reduced.

–   Enable employee empowerment so that employees who have dedicated more than 50% of their day to work and so little to their personal lives can now actually focus on their families. They will come back to work energised, happy and therefore more productive. It’s definitely something that is needed after this storm passes. Mentally we all need a bring, we need to survive and figure out the best way to survive and get out of it.

–   Remote working, working from home, distributed teams, asynchronous working, all terms that basically mean the same: people working elsewhere than at the office. For some, this is very new, for others, like me, it’s the norm. There will be some challenges both for the organisation to provide the tools necessary for employees to work from home, and a challenge for employees to balance family life and work life at the home. The risk here is a further blurring of the lines between work and private, which is already an alarming issue caused by the evolution of smartphones, tablets, laptops and increasingly unrealistic managerial expectations. In France for example, there are now laws in place that prohibit an organisation from communicating with employees outside office hours. It has become so bad that they drafted laws for it. For more details on remote working, do a Google search or read my many articles on the subject. I even have a friend and business partner who has release a small online course that teaches people how to work from home. In terms of tools, think Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, Office 365, Google G-suite and other collaboration tools like mural.co for ideation and innovation, run design sprint and design thinking sessions online… Keep in mind, there are some “unwritten” rules for video conferencing from home. I’ll share a link with you all from CNN on the matter. (Link)

–   Lastly, look at your policies. They will all need to be updated if this way of working of today is to be the norm of tomorrow. I think it should and will be. Look at the environmental impact of the last couple of weeks. Nature is catching her breath. Satellite images show a reduction in toxic gases over manufacturing countries. How awesome is that? So remote working should be encouraged further. The time spent commuting could be spent by employees managing their day and their lives better. Most people still commute alone in a car. Unless you’re talking on the phone, it’s basically dead time. It can be used in so many different ways. I’m not advocating for complete and utter lack of human contact. I’m just saying we need to rethink the workspace a bit more holistically for the new restructured society we will have.

Importantly though, make sure employees, and everyone, don’t lose human connections!

In terms of brands responsibly informing their customers and responding to their changing needs, let’s start with a couple of points:

–   Adjust plans. If an organisation has campaigns about to start, they should consider whether they are still relevant, important, appropriate or even hitting the intended target

–   Evaluate the messaging, language and imagery. Is it still relevant? Is the tone appropriate? Are they posting pictures of large crowds promoting social contact?

–   Adapt the product offering. We have seen Telstra offer unlimited data to customers. Netflix has been asked in Italy to reduce the resolution of the content to unload some of the burdens on the network infrastructure. Microsoft is offering an expanded free plan for Teams. Etc… For some, a simple a change in payment terms to keep business going could prove very successful.

–   Be transparent. Without capitalising on the crisis, brands need to inform their customer base on what they are doing to keep their staff and customers safe, such as for example in brick and mortar stores, like Coles offering sanitising wipes for the carts. Brand could share the changes to their policies (return policies, online purchases, etc…), operating hours, or store closures, etc…

–   Positive but realistic. Organisations should update customer expectations. Next day delivery may not be possible but at least online purchase and delivery still are available. You want organisations to communicate in a positive tone. They should go back to the “why” or the purpose and lean heavily on the mission value vision they have determined. They should be inspired by them again. They should use uplifting visuals, even if it isn’t their usual cup-of-tea. They should show the human side of the organisation and promote employee generated content, feel good stories like a tweet about a successful food delivery to an elderly couple 2 hours out in the outback.

–   They should make sure to highlight how their brand can help. If their product is meant for home use, emphasise the benefits to the customers. If their product isn’t relevant because of today’s circumstances, they should make sure to inform their customer base of what they can do to remain safe, or what their organisation is doing to weather the storm. It might provide value and inspiration to people or other businesses.

Remember: the quarantine won’t last forever, the crisis will end. We won’t speculate as to when. But it too will pass, as did the 2008/2009 GFC and subsequent recession. Did everyone get through it unscathed? I don’t think so. But businesses and people got through.

Lastly, I would recommend that brands, as I’m doing, start preparing for being an integral part of the recovery once this global pandemic has passed and is not at risk of returning!

Will there be long term ramifications in terms of how people go about their day-to-day lives as a result of the health crisis?

I think there will be lasting changes to the way people work. I think once people have gotten a taste of the “freedoms” of working from home, despite some of the challenges such as dealing with kids, partners, the house etc.. it will become the norm. We need to start thinking how we tax the environment less with our travels and unhealthy habits.

I think organisations have resisted the idea of distributed teams because either lack of trust in their employees, or they don’t have the infrastructure in place, or think the tasks cannot be done remotely. Necessity is the mother of innovation, right? So if businesses can survive a crisis while employees are working remotely, it would not only prove to the naysayers that climate change is human induced (as seen already), it will prove to companies that they can trust their staff, they can conduct their business with remote teams and that life does carry on.

As for individual habits, I would sincerely hope more people will start considering better hygiene habits. I may push it a little too far sometimes with my self-diagnosed clean freak attitude sometimes, but we could all do with healthier behaviours. Will we forever give up on handshakes? Maybe not. Will we consider our commute time to be a total waste of time and impose on our employers that we can work from home (in some cases), I hope so.

Let’s not forget, with lockdowns imminent in Brisbane, further regulated social distancing, the impact might be huge, even if we’re only talking about home schooling. The pressures on parents, mentally and organisationally, will have a cascade effect on many other things. Remember this: everything is interdependent. Yes, we may be independent beings, but we live in a society we are still dependent on. Whatever we do has an impact. Remember the “butterfly effect” from the Chaos theory?

Will we also consider our actions and behaviours as part of the problem during the next crisis, or part of the solution? Look at the hoarding happening now, despite no shortages in supply. The shortages are caused by the hoarding itself. And yet it continues. Look at the people still going to the beach and no abiding by the self-isolation and social distancing guidelines imposed by the government. In Florida, spring break vacationer still partying, not taking responsibility for it. I hope we will, from a sociological point of view, reassess many of our ways.

For more details, I would like to refer you to an article posted by The Technology Review that illustrates the results of the study conducted by the Imperial College of London. It is entitled: “We’re not going back to normal”, written by Gideon Lichfield, MIT Technology Review Editor in Chief. If you think we can go back to the same life we had 3 months ago, think again. The author promotes the idea that lockdowns are indeed necessary at least until a successful vaccine is developed. Read it, it’s fascinating and quite informative. The link will be shared. (Link)

As for leadership, there will be some serious ramifications that distinguish the good ones from the not so good ones. But I won’t go in too much details. I will refer to an article I read from Deloitte Insights entitled “the heart of resilient leadership: responding to COVID-19”, written by Punit Renjen, Global CEO of Deloitte. I’ll share the article with you and on my LinkedIn. (Link)

I would love to have the opportunity to discuss “leadership” separately but I don’t think it’s appropriate for this podcast.

Also, we should not forget the high likelihood of a recession after this crisis. But here too I don’t want to go into too much details. I’ll leave the pundits and the economists to do that. I just want to point out that it is a possibility, one that might further impact our day-to-day lives, it might mean more unemployment or more severe cases of underemployment.

Growth Mindset & Opportunities

Warning: part of the transcript have been edite

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