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One of the important lessons we’ve learned in the last couple of weeks is that crisis brings change, be it change on how work will be conducted going forward or the new policies we all have to adhere to in light of the ongoing pandemic. Change is inevitable, and it takes flexibility and agility to thrive in the current economic climate. Charles Darwin once says it is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, that which is most adaptable or responsive to change.
Perhaps before reading further, you should pause for a moment to reflect on the following questions: What if there is no job to return to once the lockdown is finally called off? What if the demand of the market you operate in has changed? What if you have to experience a salary cut going forward? What if your skill-set needs an upgrade to meet the market demand Post COVID-19? If these are not yet your realities or impending realities, great. Nonetheless, it’s not yet the time to sit back passively or overly dependent on government stimulus package or relief fund. Everyone, either business owners or individuals still needs to take full responsibility and ownership of their life and well-being.
We live in an uncertain economic time, workers are being laid-off, and salaries are not guaranteed, the pandemic and its impact is a wake-up call for everyone, to think, adjust, and perhaps make some changes where necessary. It is wise to see danger ahead of time and respond appropriately before it arrives. The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has paid out over One Billion Rand in the last couple of weeks, this should be an awakening to those who are still lucky enough to have a job and a stable source of income; there is no job security without ownership. If it is not your founded company, job security is just an illusion. Always expect the unexpected.
In his book, The Magna Carta of Exponentiality, Vusi Thembekwayo narrates the story of Nokia: In the 1990s and early 2000s, Nokia Corporation dominated the global mobile telecommunication environment. Their handset devices were the market standard. This was driven by, amongst others, their use of the Qwerty keyboard. The Qwerty keyboard designed and patented by the world's first typewriter manufacturer, Remington Rand. Their design of the Qwerty keyboard was so advanced that most of their competitors, including arch-rival Smith Corona, paid patent fees to use their layout.
Nokia was the best, the world over. They were unrivalled. The customer bought them because they were the best and as a result, they accumulated dominant market share. Of the fact that they were the best, Nokia became the biggest. Large, lethargic and entitled, Nokia fell into the trap of incumbency. They didn’t innovate at the rate of the market and thought. The law of competitive dynamics holds that if you leave a gap another will occupy it. Nokia left a gap on the market-end of “best”, and Research In Motion firmly entered and sought to dominate that corner of the market with the Blackberry device.
The moral is, while Nokia did not lose its market share or dominance to a pandemic, they were too rigid and unwilling to embrace the changes, the need for innovation, and the customer demand in the market they occupy.
It is not enough to be optimistic about our current situation; we also need to be pragmatic about what we need to do, either individually or corporately. We need to embrace the fact that life won’t return to the usual routine we are all used to, but this shouldn’t be deterrent in forging forward. It’s time to think, and it’s time to take a new approach. As the old saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting the same results. There is no better time than now to engage in critical thinking about your career in the long-term.