Creative thinking: Managing your business during hard times, part 3

“To achieve efficiency, this year, the idea of ‘tweaking your budget’ need not happen”. “Re-write it”! We advised. The intention was to help our

“To achieve efficiency, this year, the idea of ‘tweaking your budget’ need not happen”. “Re-write it”! We advised. The intention was to help our client achieve organizational fitness. The traditional approach of horizontal extrapolation of numbers cannot work. No company had expected and budgeted for a pandemic. It happened as a shock and has turned the world upside down across all industries.

Continued from part 2.

If you are to win, you must throw the old strategy out of the window. And get back to the drawing table. Re-write the strategy. And now more than before, you cannot just go to an offsite venue or hotel and put over 9-20 people in a room and discuss strategy. First do a thorough business assessment, by engaging with all the key strategic units/ departments in the business.


Evolution is transformation, modification, reconstruction, and adaptation. Evolution is not necessarily innovation. In hard times, winning businesses twist and adjust their products, services, marketing, and distribution channels and campaigns.

For your business, what new technologies will you adopt? What new technology tools will you adopt to continue delivering your goods and services to your customers?

To survive, your business and brand must evolve in different ways.

One of our key clients had not considered embracing social media advertising before the current COVID-19 hard times.

When they contacted us on our COVID-19 recovery and response strategy, we advised that to thrive in the new normal, our client would have to deliberately embrace social media marketing as one of the tools to maintain and expand their customer base. Also, we set for them a business intelligence and data analytics tool, that is custom to their business and of course affordable so that they have full visibility into their critical accounts and transactions to avoid the risk of fraud, which has increased tremendously, due to the financial pressures caused by the pandemic.

We managed our client’s social media strategy to not only advertise but expand their reach and give consumers a chance to express their feelings, share their experiences, and interact with the brand. We also continue to offer business intelligence and data analytics, which insights they can receive in real-time on their mobile devices – phones and laptops or iPad’s if they have an internet connection. The ability to get visibility into the business, monitor top accounts and key data tables, is so critical to CEO and EXCO (executive committee) peace of mind and it promotes creative thinking. Above all, our customer law cost summitBI® tool – that combines the powers of PowerBI, SQL, Python, Tableau Visualization, and R2 was able to help our client save over the US $12,000 monthly licenses of off-the-shelf tools, and another over the US $120,000 in a one-off payment. Such savings are so critical to navigate tough times like these.

We demonstrated how social media and deep business insights have the potential to reverse and turbocharge the communication flow of your brand’s messages. Here we fixed both the strikers and the defence teams at the same time. We know a business without visibility in tough times like these could easily collapse. But it does not matter how much money you have, if you don’t protect it through real-time monitoring, it may never accumulate and become enough.

Today, our client is privy to consumer conversations that used to happen in private. The communication about our client’s brand is on a viral megaphone –social media! Add this to the ability to unlock insights from internal data collected over the years, you have a renewal of the business. Imagine just knowing the minimum number of customers transactions per day at a given branch to break-even, you cannot only set the right targets for your team but decide with confidence the closure of a particular branch or channel. And many other insights that many leaders are blind to.


Have you created a leadership operating system that empowers people and you are not afraid of what happens when you are out of the room?

Are you an empowering leader and do you detest micromanagement?

Instead of centralizing control, do you release it through decentralization to allow decisions to be taken at the lower level?

During hard times, great leaders harness the power of their teams to address business challenges. They work through structures and teams and aim at making individuals feel heard.

They give credit to people and their teams and they say it. When the President thanked Ugandans for having courageously fought the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by adhering to the government’s guidelines, he demonstrated true leadership!

Empowerment yields the positive effect of keeping businesses close to their customers and other key stakeholders. Nevertheless, the empowering leaders maintain an upward flow of communication to keep in the know of what’s happening.

Empowering leaders do it through the creation of an environment of:

  1. Trust
  2. Clarity and
  3. Momentum

Re-establishing trust by owning up to business mistakes demonstrates care, reliability, and fairness and thereby drawing customers closer.

Clarity is achieved through effective communication. Communication of values, strategies, key roles, and routine updates provides a connection with employees.

Momentum is the energy, drive, and zeal and dynamism exhibited by business leaders. Good business momentum will not only make a business thrive, but it will get employees to fulfill their potential in unimaginable ways.

Momentum transforms the way business is done and the transformation is fast!

The CEO should not be the one to approve a decision whether to reverse someone’s account that had been debited in error with a Ugx. 20,000! The Teller should be empowered to rectify such operational problem because great leaders know they have empowered their teams to take the front line decisions since the data analytics tools and compensating controls in place can always bring any mischievous actions to the fore.

Actions for you:

COVID-19 has been a great disruption, but has also created many opportunities, especially for creative and responsive leaders!

As several businesses are experiencing a period of slowed business and economic growth and loss of key customers, dynamic business leaders are moving forward and thriving despite the backward push and roadblocks created by COVID-19.

Will you join the dynamic and creative business leaders who have embraced the summit3Es + ACT and made them part of their new normal?

Will you adjust your business’ operating systems and survive the current and future hard times?

For the upcoming business leader, will you be part of the surge of business start-ups that will spring up in the next 6 months (as a response action) to make the most of the new opportunities?

Remember, when hard times hit, your response actions matter more than all your pre-existing factors and conditions before the hard times. And whatever you do, put people at the centre of your response strategy.

ACT. Assess. Change. Transform. And win.

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