The past year has been nothing short of extraordinary and will be remembered in many ways, but none more so than for the numerous and unexpected challenges which affected both private citizens and businesses alike.
There can therefore hardly be a more appropriate focus than organisational resilience and assessing the impact of Covid-19 on the Namibian business landscape – not so much to focus on the harsh realities, but rather the stories of renewed resilience, organisational agility, survival and perseverance.
It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic exposed key vulnerabilities in our societies and our economic system. Within a matter of weeks, established business practices failed and many previously thriving enterprises had to fight for survival.
Yet it became apparent that some businesses are setting themselves apart from the rest by finding opportunities in what from the outside appears to be total chaos. Which begs the question: What are the characteristics which allowed some businesses to succeed despite the unprecedented adversity?
Once the pandemic dissipates, just returning to ‘business as usual’ will not deliver a sustained, long-term economic recovery that will at the same time also address preexisting challenges. As economies start to reopen and we start to move towards the next normal, we want to encourage Namibian businesses and organisations to incorporate agile business practices by attempting to analyse what exactly this entails.
By definition, agile organisations are purposely designed to be responsive to any changes by making lightning-fast decisions to absorb and adapt to challenges. McKinsey’s research on how agile organisations fared during the pandemic showed that 93% of organisations through their agile business units had performed ‘better’ or ‘significantly better’ than their non-agile business units in both customer satisfaction and operational performance.
In principle, any agile transformation needs to be both comprehensive and reinventive. It should be comprehensive in that it touches strategy, structure, people, processes, and technology. These practices need to be embedded in the organisational culture.
In the final analysis, whether it is setting up systems to enable clarity of purpose, rapid decision-making processes, reallocation of resources, diversification, utilising the business ecosystem or reducing hierarchical barriers, there are many ways to strive towards resilience and it is about settling on the right mix to address our unique business challenges.
In our continuous drive to build a stronger Namibian business sphere we wish to encourage all businesses to share the innovative ways our enterprises had to adapt to deal with current and future changes. Let us take time to reflect on what our organisation has learned from the crisis, and what we deem critical to the future survival of our specific area of operation.
In sharing our comprehensive business network combined experiences, once this is over and should the next crisis hit, we will all have greater resilience to absorb and adapt to the challenges we might face to the benefit of the overall Namibian economy.
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Elmarie van Rensburg