What the Fork? Strategy for 2020 – COVID-19 series

Never has business been so open-minded to change. While humans are the most innovative species on earth, we’re inconsistent. If things are cruising along nicely in life – then don’t expect much change. We’re creatures of habit and naturally risk averse. Currently it is riskier to not change, hence the embrace of change.

I’ve never had as many large corporations and government bodies contact me as they have over the past two months. What’s refreshing is the desire not just to understand possibilities, but their willingness to implement – immediately. A timely reminder of how quickly we can mobilise when needed.

While I have been doing many post-COVID economic briefings, the strategic template I’ve offered is not just for large institutions, but also for startups and individual careers. Most COVID-related shifts are falling into 2 specific patterns: Acceleration and Forks.

Acceleration: These are the trends that were already happening, but slowly. They are long-term trajectories. However with COVID, they got on the fast track – accelerated. Things that might normally take years are transformed in mere months. This list under this shift is long, but here are some examples:

  • Work From Anywhere (WFA)
  • Biometric Surveillance of Citizens
  • Tele-Labour and Telemedicine
  • Transition to Ecommerce
  • Dominance of Technology in our social and work lives
  • Nationalism – re-localisation of core supply chain

Forks: These are changes in direction that would not have occurred without COVID. Sometimes they are additional requirements that need to be added to a process and sometimes they entirely replace how we used to do things. In this list we could include the following:

  • COVID-safe supply chains
  • Social Distancing in retail / entertainment environs
  • Travel restrictions – reduced human mobility
  • Exo-labour
  • Off-campus education

A key task today is to make a list of the relevant accelerants and forks in your business and personal life.  Some will be the same for everyone and some are industry specific. Categorise the changes that have impacted you into either Accelerant and Fork buckets, you’ve got a strategic template of how to go forward and build tactics for implementation.

Though fortunately not all of us have been affected physically by the virus, it’s likely we all have been affected in other ways. Personally, I’ve had to pivot. I practice what I preach and I’m happy to share my forks and accelerations.

A big chunk of my non-passive income came from keynote speaking and consulting. This involves being in front of large audiences, in closed rooms or prolonged face-to-face contact with clients, as well as interstate and overseas travel. That all went to zero. I’d also been working on some longer lead projects – the Future House, a new TV show and a new book – these have been my accelerants. Lately I’ve focused on writing (doing around 2,000 words a day) – scripts and segments for the new TV show, articles and more media interviews, as well as some post-COVID strategy briefings. Luckily, this can be done online.

I haven’t tried to replace lost income through doing cheaper online versions, simply because the value of my advice is not determined by how it is delivered. So, rather than offer discounts, I’ve decided to design a cathedral. When the sky clears, I’ll come out and share it. This is a core principal for freelancers. We have to be very careful not to cheapen our brands and discount them, because it can be very difficult later on to reclaim the true value.

The truth is the change has been really refreshing for my mind – I’ve never felt so prolific and stimulated exploring new possibilities and new ideas.

We should all remember this: the openness to innovation will only survive as long as the instability does. Stability usually results in stasis for the large majority. So take your chances now while the world is open to it, when everyone’s plans are kiboshed and their budgets are blown. We might just have a chance to invent something new.

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Keep Thinking.