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  • Writer's pictureCassidy Mason

The Art of Balancing Efficiency and Resilience in Business

It is true to say that 2020 has been a year many of us wish to hit the reset button

on. For individuals, organisations and countries the impact has been huge in so

many ways.


Perhaps one of the relatively insignificant changes has been to our language.

Phrases and words such as “household”, “furlough”, “the new normal” and

“these are unprecedented times” were once uncommon, if not completely

unused, however they are now part of our everyday language. We no longer

count people, but “households”. We nod knowingly when somebody says, “I’ve

been furloughed” and “these unprecedented times” that have created “the new

normal” may once have been phrases that we expected only to hear in crime or

spy thrillers.


But what do these additions to our language mean in the context of business and

what can we do to exercise damage limitation during “these unprecedented

times” and adapt to “the new normal”?


It was reported that ‘more than 50,000 listed companies worldwide have lost

around 19.4 trillion euros in value within six weeks (minus 24 percent).’ (The Global

Strategy Group, KPMG ‘Recalibrating Your Strategy’, 27.05.20). While

many businesses have been able to begin to regrow in value since, this is a

decline that has not been seen before in such a short time frame and absolutely

highlights the challenges and unpredictable future facing businesses today.


Aside from such devastating decreases in company value, there are the

significantly vital impacts on workforce productivity and motivation, changes in

market landscapes from supply to demand, and the operational processes in

between. Each of these have a part to play in a company’s short, mid and long

term strategies as we wean ourselves out of lockdown.


Efficiency often becomes the strategic buzzword for times of difficulty. As a

strategist, it’s in my DNA to push to optimise resources, increase efficiency and

ultimately increase profitability. In a time where resources are limited and we

have to generate more from less, efficiency would appear to never have been

more vital. What we must absolutely ensure though, is that the balance of

efficiency and resilience is met.


Being as efficient as possible, cutting costs and streamlining processes is

paramount in “these unprecedented times”. Many companies do not have a

choice but to take a step back and look at their strategies, revaluate and adapt.


They must strip back their core processes and ensure all resources are running at

an optimal level. The sad reality is that, when we are in times of such

uncertainty, and already struggling to maintain our minimum targets, that’s

when it seems the hardest to step back. I have observed many businesses enter

into survival mode and, with the limited resources they can afford to keep on, it

is all hands-on deck.


However, now is the time to hit that reset button. Now is the time to examine

efficiency strategies under a new light. Efficiency is not just a tool to run as cost

effectively as possible, efficiency can create space and opportunity. It should

help create slack where operational rope is too tight. It is then that we create

resilience.


There is little room for resilience in an overly efficient company because there

is little room for innovation, change and growth. Your efficiency strategies must

build this in for the long-term, because, if there is one thing that COVID-19 has

taught us, it’s that we need to be flexible and innovative.


So, as we ease out of the “furlough” period, and enter into “the new normal”, let

us take a moment to stop, breathe and explore how it has changed our business

landscape and what opportunities that provides our new, efficient yet resilient,

business model. After all, “these are unprecedented times” for every

“household”.


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