Views from the Picnic Table: Volume 2

Chris Sargisson - CEO Norfolk Chambers

A few weeks have passed since I penned the first ‘Views from the Picnic Table’ blog. How time flies eh? Seriously though, time is flying. What happened to April?

Sadly the wheels have firmly come off my plans for surviving lockdown: Start early, work for a few hours, break for a fruit based breakfast and a glass of water, back to work, maybe a jog or that promised hour to learn a few tricky guitar chords, before a vegetable based dinner, more water, and an early night.

So no, that’s absolutely not the current routine. Each day is full-on, but generally I work in the tee-shirt I slept in, whilst snacking on breadsticks and drinking coffee, although my lovely wife keeps poking orange segments or grapes at me. (Thanks Rachel)

Continuous ‘full-on’ days are a challenge and like us all, I hope it will be short lived, anyway I have always worked on the principle that success in a CEO’s role is routed in knowing how to spend your time, in fact I have a formula to manage my time known simply as !

40% of my time spent on the business’s future

30% of my time on the strategy and doing to deliver that future

20% of my time looking at, understanding and reacting to the factors that indicate how well I’m doing with the 40 and the 30

10% of my time on me trying to be smart enough to do the 40, 30 & 20 !

What’s changed, and might explain why I’m showering less and wearing bedtime clothes in the day, is I’ve added the 1 to the 4 so 50% of my time is ‘future’ focused.

Right now, ‘future focused’ = Recovery program. What we need is a bespoke and highly effective program to support all of the region’s businesses with the complicated and unknown task of recovering from a sudden, enforced and prolonged shutdown.

The recovery program needs a narrative and design routed in ‘knowledge transfer’. The program should follow a logic that there are critical, interlinked stages of recovery that should be followed. We suggest there are three headlines that can be used to classify these stages of the recovery, which we are calling the 3R’s: Respond, Restart, Recuperate.

Respond = Activity needed now in readiness for restarting, based on the landscape we are heading into. For example: How to prepare to trade in a recession and critical new knowledge to adapt your business model because since trading was paused, consumers have been forced to change behaviours. Some of those behaviours will continue when restrictions are lifted. ‘If your customer didn’t have the Amazon app before the crisis, they probably do now!’

Restart = Furlough and financial support packages, for example, will they be phased out or will they dramatically end? Which businesses will be the first to restart and who will be last; and what incentives and support is needed to restart; is your supply chain ready; how, when and what do you communicate to customers?  

Recuperate = When the restart program is activated, most businesses financial plans/strategy/investment programs will not have a pessimistic variation designed to plan for a problem of this magnitude. How do we then sensibly support and grow healthy businesses and not zombie variations of their former selves?   

The ‘Respond’ elements are needed now and significantly more will be required in the coming months to manage the next two stages.

The Interactive Knowledge Exchange Framework:

An interactive Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) should be designed to run the 3R program and enable businesses to learn and share critical knowledge and understanding via a combination of blended resources: For example:

  • A digital platform to broadcast business advice and ‘how to’ stories told by businesses onto all devices. A series of coordinated support events across the region (when restrictions are lifted) 
  • A ‘refer on’ program, specifically for inbound call handlers such as the Growth Hub to support to ‘how do I do this?’, and ‘who can help me?’ enquiries 
  • A comprehensive library of structured macro and broad training seminars to be delivered both physically and digitally.
  • A mentoring program to assign physical support those most in need

I’ll be pushing this recovery concept forward now, if only to get my 10% back and have a shower! 

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