Project Kickstart

The coronavirus pandemic is all happening around you…you decide how to respond

The coronavirus crisis has presented us with challenges and changes to all aspects of our lives and the way that businesses operate and will be operating in the future.

It’s export, but not as we know it

A key question is how the new ‘normal’ going to look like and how you will respond.

Will the way that the business operates and services the customers be changing and, if so how can we adapt to that?  We are already experiencing many changes in people’s behaviour in the way we live, we are also seeing many great examples of community spirit, some of them, but perhaps not enough, supported or encouraged by providers in the life of most people. Could your business become a part of these new movements?

And how ready are you to adapt and change your offering, service, and way of delivery?  Do you listen and learn from the markets?

The VUCA concept has military origins, first introduced in the early 90s in the US to describe the situation after the Cold War. It took off in a business context after the 2008 global financial crisis and roughly translates into “it’s crazy out there!”

It’s all about the future – the various dimensions of ‘uncontrollable’ we find ourselves in and how we might best deal with it. And we think (maybe now more than ever) that it’s pretty important to consider how we can support people to successfully navigate a VUCA world

In practice, the four elements of VUCA are related, yet they present distinct elements that make our environment – including export  – harder to control.

Volatility is about the speed of change. It is associated with fluctuations in demand, turbulence, and short-time to the world around you. In short, high volatility means rapid change.

Uncertainty refers to the extent to which we can predict the future. Certainly, as a result of high volatility, it is becoming increasingly harder to predict forthcoming events and trends.

Complexity relates to the number of factors we must take into account, their variety, and the relationship between them. The more factors, the greater their variety, and the more they are interconnected, the more complex the environment becomes. This makes it harder to analyse and understand a given situation.

Ambiguity is the lack of clarity in interpreting something. It is vagueness in ideas and technology. Because of complexity and uncertainty, it is often difficult to discern what is contradictory or inaccurate.

Never let a serious crisis go to waste

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste”

This quote from Rahm Emmanuel, who was US President Barrack Obama’s Chief of Staff is not advocating creating crises. However, there is little doubt that innovations and initiatives that in ‘normal’ times would take ages to happen, in times of crisis, like now, get approved and implemented here and now!

So now is the time to be radical, daring and quick

Create lasting change by working with ‘the willing’

Now is not the time to let the ‘negaholics’ decide what is changing and happening (or rather what is not changing and happening!) but to celebrate the ‘change champions’.

Old thinking protects the status quo and leads to inertia where traditional export fail to evolve fast enough, leading to their decline and in some cases to its demise.

Businesses trapped in the ‘cage of conformity’ and believe their organisations’ value conformity and hence avoid doing things differently. They live under a  curse of knowledge and a culture of the way we do things around here.

You must encourage new thinking and be unreasonable

New thinking seeks to actively exploit new opportunities, new technology and new habits.

As the writer, George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” …and celebrate change champions Breaking free from conformity takes courage and requires change champions – these rabble-rousers need to keep things from getting too comfortable and need space to work, plus a culture that values and encourages them.

The days of analysing everything down to the nth degree are over – your 5-year Export strategy is completely out of date before it was due to be implemented.  It’s time for some lateral thinking

One thing that the COVID-19 crisis has shown that we can convert an exhibition centre into a hospital in 10 days and that gin distillers can produce hand sanitisers, almost overnight here in England.

- lateral thinking 2020

In this world of new ‘normal’ lateral thinking and action has to become the new ‘normal’ for any business both for the local markets and for any of the export markets

You need to become a hub for your customers, the communities and your stakeholders

An easy segmentation frame to get and create a quick overview of your current customers and decide where to put resources for growth even keep the business you have

Who are you serving – the Prosumer, Consumer or Nonsumer?

The Prosumer is the one who cannot be without your product or service – A true advocate of your brand

The Prosumer wants to stay with your product/service and do not consider any other offerings in the market place


Consumers would like to stay with your product/services but are becoming increasingly open for other offerings in the market in the new normal

They have looked at alternatives in the “extra” time they have (had) in the lockdown period so remember to show your appreciation for their loyal use of product/service so the consumer has no or limited reason to change


The Nonsumer often has an intense dislike of forming a relationship to products/services – so how can you become a part of their lives?  Can your product/service have a purpose for the Nonsumers?

So which one of these segments do you serve and would like to grow in the new ‘normal’?

So, all this, and much more have to play a role for organisations that want to do a kickstart. It won’t always be easy, but you may, occasionally, enjoy the journey and I can almost guarantee you that you will appreciate the results.

So, what could be included in your specific programme?

We are not dogmatic about this, so these are just some suggestions of what could be included in your kick start programme

From a surviving to a thriving export mindset – the eight steps

  1. Create a sense of urgency

This is the most important step.  Making people involved aware of the need and urgency for change, support will be created. This requires an open, honest and convincing dialogue. This convinces people around you of the importance of taking action. This is required for both the domestic part and the export part if the business is not a global business with full integration across the borders.

  1. Create a guiding coalition

It is a good idea to establish a project team focusing on the changes the organization wants and need to implement.

This group manages all efforts and encourages people to cooperate and take a constructive approach.

Preferably, this coalition is made up from people across your organisation so that everybody can rely on the group and identify themselves with the team members.

Because of the open character, the groups can also function as a sounding board, which enables open communication. When established in the business you enlarge the project team with key customers across your markets and countries

  1. Create a vision for change

Formulating a clear vision can help everyone understand what the business is trying to achieve within the agreed time frame. It makes changes more concrete and creates support to implement them.

The ideas of people around you can be incorporated in the vision so that they will accept the vision faster.

  1. Communicate the vision

The most important objective of step 4 of this change model is to create support and acceptance among the employees, customers, end-users across all markets and channels.

This can only be achieved by talking about the new vision with the people at every chance you get and by taking their opinions, concerns and anxieties seriously. With this open communication, you also get vital input of changes from the outside world

  1. Remove obstacles

Before change is accepted at all levels, it is crucial to change or, if necessary, remove obstacles that could undermine the vision. By entering into dialogue with everybody, it will become clear who are resisting the change. To encourage acceptance of the vision by as many as possible, it helps when their ideas are incorporated and implemented in the change process.

  1. Create short-term wins

Nothing motivates more than success. Create short-term goals so that as many people as possible have a clear idea of what is going on. When the goals have been met, the employees will be motivated to fine-tune and expand the change alongside your key customers

  1. Build on the changes

Many change trajectories fail because victory is declared too early. However, change is a slow-going process and it must be driven into the overall corporate culture. Quick wins are only the beginning of long-term change. An organisation, therefore, needs to keep looking for improvements. Only after multiple successes have been achieved, it can be established that the change is paying off.

  1. Anchor the changes

A change will only become part of your culture when it has become a part of the core of the business. Change does not come about by itself. People must continue to support the change.

Regular evaluation and discussions about progress help consolidate the change.

How you can combine online and offline activities

During the crisis, we have seen various changes in business models and strategies.

Produce better plans, based on your culture, skills and vision

We simply have to be better prepared, skilled and adaptable to respond better and quicker to these challenges. How relevant are 5-year plans when we, sometimes, don’t know what is happening in five days!?

Developing new partnerships

In the world of the new ‘normal’, you will need to develop new partnerships often with non-direct competitors such as ingredients used in your product, packaging or the service surround the complete offering.  This will require developing a better understanding of their needs and culture.

The consumer will have changed – but how? More price-sensitive, more used to working from home – how will that influence on you?

The pyramids upside down – do you listen to everyone?

customer pyramids upside down

Adopting a disruptor mindset – managing risk and opportunities without losing focus

‘Old thinking’ focuses on maintaining the status quo and cherishes ‘the way we do things around here’, whereas ‘young thinking’ focuses on how to disrupt and change the existing set-up. A strong example here is the shift of companies going from the standard supply model turned to online activities. Across Europe, we have seen successful changes from companies normally supplying the hotel and restaurant to becoming a “take away food” business for end-users/consumers.

 Embracing and embedding new technology to grow your reach

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the growth in the use of social media and digital technology. So, every business must now take a serious and innovative look at how they can further benefit from being more enterprising in the way they use technology to engage

How to be a force for good – focus on sustainability and social impact

There is increasing focus around how businesses can become climate-friendly and play our role in reducing CO2 emissions. This is no longer just a ‘good’ thing to do, it is becoming a ‘must’ thing, and now is the time to take a serious look at that, the operation, packaging and services are used

Adopting purposeful and ethical practices that will enhance your value

 Businesses are increasingly being asked “What is your purpose?” in the competitive landscape where you operate. That involves behaving ethically and being transparent and honest in the new global online world

If you want to learn more and/or have a chat about how Project Kickstart can help you to to get up to speed as soon as possible and stay ready for after the coronavirus crisis then get in touch emil us  hlp@optimumexport or you can skype us optimumexport