Early respondents have turned COVID-19 disruption around

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Albert Ocran

Depending on how you respond, the COVID-19 pandemic could be a total disruption of your life or could be the beginning of a new lease of life for you, Executive Director of Springboard Road Show Foundation, Rev Albert Ocran has stated.

Sharing a story, he titled ‘one pandemic, three movers’, he said the COVID-19 crisis could signal a new beginning for individuals and businesses who moved quickly to craft new solutions but could spell doom for those who were still waiting for things to return to normal.

For those who are still waiting for things to return to normal, he, however, noted that it was not too late for them to move and fit into the new normal.

Rev Ocran was speaking at CoRe Conference as part of the COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme (CoRe), an initiative of the Springboard Road Show Foundation, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and Solidaridad. The programme is supporting over 692,000 young people in the country to build socioeconomic and mental resilience to thrive beyond the pandemic.

He was speaking on the theme ‘strategy in uncertain times’.

One pandemic, three movers

Narrating an adapted version of the story from the bestselling book ‘Who Moved My Cheese’, he said four friends lived in a maze or a complex and convoluted environment and had a constant place where they went every day to eat their daily meal of cheese.

“One day, they went to the place and without warning, found no cheese at all. The cheese was all gone. They were shocked, baffled and confused. Immediately, two of them, Kwesi and Adjoa, set out into the unknown to explore and find a solution and eventually found an alternative source of cheese.

“Kwame and Afia stayed put and kept complaining, rechecking the original location daily and repeatedly asking the big question, ‘who moved my cheese?’ After a week, Afia left Kwame and went into the maze to find a solution. Eventually, she found her two friends very well fed and very comfortable in their new location. She joined them and settled to some good cheese.

“What about Kwame? He never forgave the one who stole the cheese. Instead of moving, he stayed where he was and eventually perished. As we contemplate strategy in uncertain times, I want us to reflect on three movers in the COVID-19 pandemic,” he noted.

Early movers

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the first movers were schools, banks, churches and conferences that moved online within a short time. They included restaurants, shops and waakye joints that started doorstep delivery and tourist destinations that started virtual tours.

He said what these institutions did differently was to respond immediately and move with speed and urgency. They saw opportunities no one else was seeing and leveraged technology and innovation to mimic traditional solutions.

Late movers

Rev Ocran noted that the second category of movers did respond immediately.

“They spent a lot of time describing the shock and discomfort while the first movers were moving. They argued about whether the lockdown was justified and how they were expected to survive until they realized they either had to move or pay the price.

“Eventually they moved and eventually found some level of comfort,” he pointed out.

He said late respondents often imitate the initiatives and concepts of the early movers and only move because their survival is threatened.

No movers

Rev Ocran pointed out that there were some people who were still wondering what happened.

“They initially assumed that life would soon return to normal in the same way they knew it. They are still talking about how unfair the disruptions are instead of responding to them.

“As we ponder over these uncertain moments, ask yourself which of the three respondents you are. If you’re an early respondent, you are probably smiling and thinking of how to increase the gap and take more territories. You are still spotting new areas no one has thought about and planning how to engage them profitably,” he said.

“If you’re a late respondent, you’re now seeing what you could have done differently and thinking of how to close the gap. You can be assured that all it takes is one innovation and one sharp solution and you can catch up and move ahead. The race is not to the swift. Keep moving,” he added.

Creative thinking

Also speaking at the conference, Business Consultant, Dr Daniel Seddoh, said planning was about creative thinking and if businesses and individuals think hard in times of uncertainty, they would certainly find a solution.

He said businesses must go through the customer journey with design thinking in mind and as they engage the customers and robustly trim their cost structure, they would understand the issues and make the necessary changes.

The Chief Executive Officer of Selina Beb Designs, Ms Selina Bebaako-Mensah, also shared how her business was able to survive the pandemic.

She said before COVID-19, she was not doing lots of deliveries but had to resort to deliveries to make sales during the pandemic.

In some cases, she said the deliveries were done for free to reward her loyal customers.

In her remarks, conference host, Comfort Ocran, assured young people aged between 18 and 35 years that the CoRe Programme would roll out diverse interventions to help them weather the storms created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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