Positive change in the face of adversity

covid-19 south africa Apr 22, 2020


Today we have decided that it is time for a bit of positivity and a splash of colour! There is enough going around to be negative about at the moment - including the many difficult decisions to be made by organisations everywhere as we are planning for the post-lockdown environment.

We must however not lose sight of the opportunities that may come out of this whole difficult process.

📌  Our country might just be able to shake loose the shackles of inaction as regards much-needed economic (and possibly even political) reforms. Avenues for assistance and collaboration that may have been tightly closed before, have opened up due to the fact that everyone (whether local, global, public or private) is in the same boat.

📌  Many recalcitrant executives who have put off delving into and anticipating the 4IR-world, and who have resisted pleas to investigate flexible work, gigging, the use of freelancers and so on, have been forced into remote-work experiments and have experienced first-hand its benefits as well as its risks. The importance of technology, health and safety, cyber-security, training, communication, adaptability and true leadership has never been more clear. The future of work has just become very real - and it is not a bad thing!

📌 Organisations now have a rare opportunity to rethink the reasons for their existence and to investigate alternative products or services. Businesses that purely continue as in the past, will encounter difficulties, because consumers everywhere are battling. A re-evaluation of strategic objectives could lead to very different operating models in the future and agile business models with a flatter management structure will be much more functional than sticking to the command-and-control approach.

📌  Business travel will probably never look the same again. Large, expensive in-person conferences and seminars may make way for more (geographically and financially) accessible alternatives. Board meetings, executive perks and expense accounts may all need to be re-looked.

📌 Education will have to be much more focused - instead of just 'turning up' for scheduled and pre-planned classes, teachers and students will have to come up with revised plans for achieving very specific educational goals, far beyond chasing passing rates and personal accolades. Revisiting curricula and conventional teaching methods to find more effective, agile and workplace-ready options has now become urgent, instead of just necessary. 

I could go on. In fact, a great "Reset" is required, as referred to in an article written by Sherisa Rajah (a partner at Fasken) and published by OneCircle (an online platform connecting businesses with freelance HR experts). 

Inasmuch as the difficulties of this situation are very real and the survival of people and organisations may be at stake, it is what it is. There is no turning back, no way to avoid it, and no miracle do-over. It will require people in all wakes of life to dig deep and to find qualities that might have been under-used, under-developed or as yet undiscovered, to function in this new world.

Above all, for us as South Africans, we shall once again tap into the one quality that has enabled us to navigate and overcome so, so many adversities and hardships in this beautiful country of ours: resilience. We have indeed, and shall again, do as our President has stated: "We shall recover. We shall overcome. We shall prosper."

Of that, I have no doubt. 


© Judith Griessel 


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