Resilience – A New Competitive Advantage

Martin Louw

Martin Louw

CEO, Celagenix® Group

Why are some businesses making it?

As a new generation Management Consulting and Business Advisory Firm, we have been at the forefront of change for several years, encouraging businesses to adjust their sails accordingly. Those who heeded the call are now better equipped to adapt to the rapidly changing global economic conditions. However, those who remained hesitant or reluctant to reinvent themselves, even incrementally, now have the mammoth task of deciphering and interpreting the rules of an uncertain future, without fully understanding the game. Not an ideal place for any business to be.

We deal with both sides of the fence on a daily basis: One the one side, those who continue to leverage the force of the wind in favour of their businesses, and on the other side, those who simply drift without conviction or a clear sense of direction. Resilience is creating a veritable gap between the two as wide as the chasm between time and eternity.

In our day-to-day engagements with businesses of various shapes and sizes, we have found that those who displayed a notable degree of resilience during this transition have several things in common:

  • Firstly, buy-in from key stakeholders. In other words, they tag team on the top and take hands with the bottom to create distinguishable value. Without buy-in from key stakeholders, attempts to adapt to change will remain theoretical at best. A unified approach is one of the most important hallmarks of resilient businesses.
  • Visionary leadership: They have a clear idea of what their blue sky looks like, and what it looks like for their customers or clients. Management of these businesses have been able to strike a balance between the needs and interests of the business and those of their customers or clients. In our world, we refer to it as augmented corporate governance. Fragmented corporate governance occurs in the space where these two areas do not converge or overlap. It is often in the same space that unethical decisions are made, for example, when preference is given to certain stakeholders at the expense of others.
  • Willingness to adopt new ways of working. Relying on old ways of doing things is possibly one of the greatest detractors that we have come across in countless businesses, often sprouting from rigid mindsets and philosophies rooted in legacy rather than foresight. Those that stand out have either decoupled from their dependence on what used to work, or have onboarded navigators to steer their ships beyond the comfort of their own harbours.
  • Collaborative value propositions: No business is an island, at least not anymore. Resilient firms have accepted this reality. Instead of trying to do or figure everything out by themselves, they embrace new partnerships and associations and utilise resources, expertise and networks of external providers, even those of their own competitors. We have facilitated many collaborative initiatives and strategic partnerships over the last few years, the fruit of which is now becoming very evident relative to businesses that still prefer to navigate the waves of change in isolation. Scaling without strategic collaboration is becoming near impossible. In our professional view, it is no longer optional.
  • Finally, businesses that display a high degree of resilience have re-engineered their business models to accommodate and enhance every stage of the customer journey. They are continually leveraging the power of technology to create brand affinity, or what we like to refer to as brand magnetism. These businesses understand that brands are no longer just what they tell customers it is i.e. promotion, but also what customers tell each other it is i.e. loyalty. Verifiably, it is one of the competitive advantages of most disruptive businesses. They know how to attract, engage and retain customers or clients, and which channels and touch points to utilise and bolster. Hence, the reason why some can weather the storm that others capsize in.

Resilience, from root to fruit, is as much an art as it is a relentless effort to do whatever it takes to remain both relevant and engaging. It requires ongoing cross-organisational strategic planning, a well-documented evaluation of detractors from performance and enablers of accelerated growth, and a navigable plan of action.

Fundamentally, resilience is about understanding what value means to customers or clients, and then applying design thinking principles to re-engineer how value is created, and by whom. It is an iterative process that requires deployment of various tools, resources and strategies to create visible value propositions that are convenient to access and attractive to purchase. Customers do not like searching for things, but they do like finding things. Resilience is about continually reinventing yourself to be found, regardless of the weather forecast. It is the conduit to a truly differentiated brand.

The challenge is to avoid prolonged reactive management by taking strategic action incrementally but immediately. The business landscape will undoubtedly look very different in future. We encourage you, therefore, to do what needs to be done to steady the ship. Just guard against remaining anchored indefinitely. The harbours that we used to dock at will not be safe for much longer. This new dispensation of commerce will belong to resilient businesses.

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