It seems to me that a lot of the people who are starting to advocate economic considerations ahead of health-related ones during this pandemic, are some of the same people who were the least prepared for a sudden halt in economic activity. I don’t blame them for wanting to get back to normal ASAP – we all want that to happen.
However, I still think we need to spend time after this is over on the things, we have learned from this. Maybe we should consider whether some of the business school books should be reviewed and refined. Overly complex supply chains, ‘Just in time’-principles and over-optimization of the daily business operations managing cash on a shoestring suddenly seem like brilliant ideas now than they seemed to be just a month ago, right?
I continue to find it shocking (and then, not really for the above reasons, ed.) that otherwise successful and well-run companies can crumble within a week or two. It seems like a lot of businesses were already in essence on major life support as it were, and if the corona pandemic hadn’t pushed to the very edge of the cliff, it was a matter of time before something else would.
It is fairly easy to meet founders who think they know it all. Founders who are so sure of their own success and the trajectory that they are on that they almost excude overconfidence.
But are they overconfident, or are they just pretending out of fear of losing face, credibility, mojo or something else? Probably. Because just under the surface of any founder is the fear of failure. Of making the wrong decision. Of missing the boat completely.
It is natural. And actually fear can be transformed into a strenght, if you use it as an opportunity to have a learning mindset. Studys show that one of the traits of successful founders is the ability to learn. And in order to learn, you need to start by acknowledging that you don’t know it all. So get comfortable with that – and embark on your ongoing learning process.
There is no way around it: The greatest learning opportunity is when things don’t go according to plan. When you envisioned X and Y or Z happens, and you have very little idea about why that is.
When that happens – and it will happen – it is an open invitation to learn. It is an invitation to go back, investigate and walk through everything you have done in order to try and find the spot(s), where you missed something important.
It is by no means certain that you will be able to find it at the first time of asking. But if you adapt an experimental approach and try to adjust here and there in a controlled way, chances are that you will finally understand what happened, and what you could have done and should be doing forward to make it right. And voilá; you will actually have learned something.
Yesterday, the company I chose to deliver fiber to my home made their best effort to loose me as a customer. Due to unfortunate circumstances I narrowly missed a visit by a technician, and when I called them to figure out what went wrong, the customer support was rude and hung up on me.
Companies behaving that way may have a good or even great product. But they have a shitty customer experience. And in a day and age where basically everybody can do anything, the true differentiator between winning and losing as a business with the customer is precisely what happened to me: A shitty customer experience.
Whether you are in a corporate or getting your own startup off the ground you should aim to lead by experience; be the most open, accommodating, empathetic and what have you. Because even if I as a customer come to you with a problem, I will remember you cared – and I will our relationship an extra shot.