Thank you to our friend, client and associate, Mr Pavo Tan of HGR Consulting, a Malaysian Accountant who has been practising business consultancy in Shanghai for more than a decade and is currently experiencing the recovery from the COVID-19 lock down, for the exclusive on the ground insight sharing of what the businesses are dealing with now in Shanghai in their new normal. Our clients and business contacts have certainly benefited from his unique and exclusive insight in this CAN (Client Appreciation Networking) Event.
#1 “Man Man Lai” (慢慢来/Despacito/Slowly)
Although this is his eventual conclusion from his presentation, but we cannot underestimate the power in managing our expectation in the timing of the economic rebound. For a start, it is not immediate. And then it is never gonna be a rebound to the normal as we know it it before this pandemic. Just like when you got discharged from the hospital from a major surgery, you are still under observation before you can happily return to your old lifestyle before. Here is what the doctor has yet to tell you clearly, “there is no turning back”.
Recovery takes time and the ripple effects from all the related stakeholders will be felt especially when you want it fast. It takes time for warming up after a total shut-down. “Get yourself through this year and come back stronger in 2021”, seems like a reasonable suggestion.
Just like all the major sporting events in the world right now, 2020 is effectively written off. Start to get used to all odd numbers year now as it will never get even again. Donald Trump might even oddly survive the presidential election scheduled for this year.
In my signature words, “slowly but surely”.
#2 Honest Communication will keep your business alive
In time of crisis, law and justice are plain luxury when survival is the only concern. While we want to be guided by law and order, start acknowledging that the court system has a limitation in costs, processes (speed) and enforcement (more costs and more processes). It will be even slower with the pent up demand of justice after the forced inactivity for a prolonged period of time.
We must lean to mediate and learn it fast. The key is to keep everyone that is fit enough in the game; and consciously letting go of the weak links in the value chain. Honest communication and open sharing of information is the key. This is business unusual where trade secrets and protection counts for nothing if you cannot live to see another day.
Start your talking now, perhaps this is the only thing that you cannot afford to be “Man Man Lai”. The earlier you start, the better you will get the hang of it when things are catching up. We have all the time for each other right now during this MCO.
No need to do anything fancy with video conferencing call all the time although it is trendy thing to do now, a good old fashioned 10 to 15 minutes phone call can easily do the tricks. Just pick up the phone and start, WhatsApp or WeChat in messaging is only useful after the voice call.
#3 Block Thinking is the key
Think Lego! That’s RIGHT! In another word, when you are overwhelmed, just do one block at a time. Remember the good old Malaysian proverbs the “it will soon become a mountain before you know it” (“Lama lama jadi Bukit”).
This is akin to my version of the “lizard theory” that I have shared recently with my team. When the lizard got stuck, the lizard willingly detach its tail for survival. This is a permission to regenerate that we can learned from the nature, rather than keep crying over the spilled beans. In this context, businesses shall think in block when asking for the survival solution. Put the past experience aside and not to dwell into the fault and justification process; and start a new block afresh now with new issues and new solutions.
There is no point to ask for settlement of an issue that cannot be settled easily and no body is willing to give and take. Put that aside and start a new chapter, only deal with it again when things are back in control later. Cut the tail, move forward and keep the cut tail for later. This is a learning from the manufacturing practice in China that don’t focus on production of the products but the deployment of production line. Once you let go of your old way of thinking, you gain fresh perspectives immediately that allows you to move forward.
Rome is not built in a day; and there is a lot of sacrifices in the process.
#4 Engagement for Reinvention
As Pavo is also providing HR consultancy, he has shared some interesting facts when everyone is returning back to work after the prolonged period of restricted movement:
- employees are more motivated,
- knowing that their options are limited,
- therefore open to new tasks and learning new skills,
- more willing to work harder than before
- with improved tolerance level,
- less demanding in instantaneous responds and gratification; and
- generally nicer to each other.
This new normal is the perfect condition for businesses to engage internally for a reinvention of their existing business model based on the resources and network that they have established all along. Engage with your staffs and front liners to see if they are new ways to deliver the business as well as the changing in demands as the new challenges is unfolding now. Engage with your customers and your clients to understand their new challenges and source out new solutions in the process.
Changing your employees’ role from just the wage earners to a stakeholders in your business on a project to project basis is a great reinvention of the old employment model. There will be extra motivation and security in the process rather the usual lack of control and the unsecured feeling of the employees in challenging time like this. In fact, why stop there? Reinvent our business model with your customers and clients, and in fact your suppliers too. Make all of them your stakeholders that thrive on your success and survival. Here’s a tip, your banks are your stakeholders, it is never their intention to see you going down, engage with them; they are not so flexible but there are ways if there is a will…
Quoting Jack Ma, “when you have no enemy, everyone is your free” (“心中无敌、自天下无敌”）
#5 Government Assistance is to keep your business alive to see the recovery
Whatever that your government is doing right now, is only to keep your survival and NOT to keep your growth. It is still a promise and how these assistance will be channeled down to the ground and its effectiveness is yet to be seen.
Don’t miss the bigger picture. Understand the scale of the problem as we are hit by a multiple whammy of economic crisis now. The long overdue cyclical recession is accelerated to now, the overproduction of our wasteful abundance, the technology is changing rapidly, the emergence of a new world order, the end of the consumption economy, as well as this pandemic of COVID-19 are all paving the world to a new normal and this is a global affair faced by all humanity now. World War is taking a different facade that we have never envisage before. We are potentially moving the scale of the Great Depression that happened almost a century ago to potentially the Greater Depression, if not the greatest yet.
If you want to keep your growth, you must engage in self-help instead of relying on the Governmental assistance. Chart out the resources and map out your opportunities vis a vis these thriving businesses:
- daily household products
- PPE (Personal Protection Equipments)
- Baby Products
- Online Learning (Education, Skills, Leisure, Health etc)
- Online Entertainment (Gaming, Streaming, Content etc)
For a start, as much as we are losing population in this pandemic, we will potentially gain even more population with record breaking new birth rate expected by the end of the year 2020 because of the prolonged lock down at home. This will be an interesting generation to serve with certainly new business opportunities, if only you know how to capitalise on it.
Snap yourself out of your fear and negativity NOW, you are not alone in dealing with this. We are all (I mean every human beings around the world) in this together. We have no where to run, so why thinking of any escape when you can still make the best out of our staying put. Demand is no longer the same as before, let us all take this moment to consolidate and take count of what we have to start afresh with new approach in doing what we are doing now. Just like in Shanghai right now, keep wearing the mask as a symbol to remind each and everyone of us to not taking anything for granted moving forward. “Zero Spread” is a global movement now with no option for you to opt out. Stay safe and I am sure we will all meet again on the other side…
Do contact us if you want to contact Mr Pavo Tan to help your business recovery during and at the end of the MCO. We can also certainly help your firefighting, crisis management and business restructuring with our legal knowledge, negotiation skills as well as our signature big picture approach as your tools to keep your business going as a going concern. Just reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see how best we can help you through these unprecedented challenges now.
This is the full recording of our very first “Client Appreciation Networking” (CAN) Online, to gain your valuable insight through the words of Pavo Tan.
At your service always,
9 April 2020