Are we nearly there yet?

Are we nearly there yet?

When I was five – a really, really long time ago – my sisters and I used to call, “Are we nearly there yet?” from the back seat of my parents’ Austin Maxi on every single trip. How boring we must have felt the journeys, and how tedious our refrain must have been for the grown-ups. And yet when I became a driver and I talked with my dad about the distractions of having us kids playing in the sunny boot of whichever car we had (oh, way before seatbelts in the back!) as we got progressively bigger, he surprised me with his answer.

He never really noticed, he said, because he was always looking at the apex of the road, just at the point where the curve of the road disappeared from view, and he was always planning ahead. It was my mum, he said, who was the heroine of the piece, putting up with us and calming us.

For the past few months I’ve been meeting my clients’ and my colleagues’ kids. I’ve seen them climbing over mum and dad during meetings – and if I’m honest I have thoroughly loved all the subtle and not-so-subtle affirmations that we are all human and all in this together. I’ve also commiserated with those who are both working and teaching and taking kids on a probably fairly tedious journey through unknown territory. There are heroes all around us.

My colleagues in particular have been incredible, from our marketing assistant Mia who joined us on lockdown day and has truly been thrown in at the deep end, to our management consultants and leadership coaches. They have so generously volunteered their time to anyone who wants it and have enabled us to open the doors at 2Y3X to anyone in need of advice or help.

I’ve been using the time to add many more resources for existing clients, to teach people how 2Y3X works and, with my co-founder Frank Kelcz, to expand our international network. We’ve met some incredible, decent human beings during our own particular journey.

But thinking of the road: we should keep an eye on the apex, on the farthest point we can see in the curve of the road ahead. While we continue our tactical interventions and assistance, we must also keep our focus on what is coming. We’ve been helping our clients to plan ahead for their customers, so we should be doing it for ourselves too.

The world we lived in has changed. The new connections, the new recognition of our shared journey, will change the way we do business in the future, not least because we will likely go towards a more decentralised, less landlord-centric model of working; flexitime will no longer be even up for question; virtual meetings will have become normal; virtual workshops will be desirable, often more efficient, and more inclusive.

So, it is time for all of us to start thinking about planning ahead.

If your organisation is going to be different in six months’ time, what will the new you look like? What shape will it be? How will it be ready for the likely profound recession to come? How will you be differentiated, when everyone is fighting to their last for market share?

While our day-to-day work is about how to triple revenue (the 2Y3X Programme almost always doubles, and sometimes triples, revenue over its two-year span), my own sweet spot is value proposition development. All the companies we work with become famous for what they do. In expressing your new proposition in the context of a radically different world, how will you be defined? Are you planning who you can logistically be, what you can be best at, what your positioning will be as compared to everyone else, in the eyes of the newly minted customer with their freshly reevaluated strategy?

We have already started working with new clients who are bravely looking to the future and recognising that what they were before may no longer be fit for purpose. There’s a new way coming. Working with our wonderful team of volunteers, Eva, Ali, Owen, Sarah, David, Ehtasham, Polly, Lincoln, Mo, Vonnie and Tim, and working with a feast of pro bono clients to refine it, we developed a short-form version of the 2Y3X Programme. It is delivered in just over three months, and easily affordable by those in crisis mode. So while we’ve been helping those in need free of charge, we are preparing to launch the 2Y3X QuickMap programme to get companies back on their feet fast.

The really prescient, those with real foresight, realise that round that bend, the one they can already see when they lift their sights, there may be an opportunity to accelerate. These are the owners of the road. They are the ones who are planning to do their strategy workshops, to do their scenario mapping, to create their plans of action. To set their position, get in gear, and ready themselves for an as yet unseen – but certainly coming – future.

We’re not nearly there yet, at the apex of the road. That’s likely two months, maybe even six, away. But at the bend we need to be ready; ready to do our controlled turn so we can smoothly come out faster the other side. Our people need to be ready, our fellow travellers, colleagues, new working styles and kids and all. If all you do right now is plan to make a plan, you will have started to make ready for when you will need to be ready. Along the way you will have beaten the tedium, you’ll have sat forward rather than waiting for it to wash you away, you will be prepared… and ready to press the accelerator.

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