As it turns out, pivoting is a team sport

by Lesley Brydon, Managing Director

There have been many steep challenges to face over the last few months and the vast majority of businesses have suffered some sort of setback. But what about the highlights?

Working from home has been a revelation, and having not set foot in the office for nearly five months, it’s got me thinking about how we incorporate this flexibility into our business model in future. Not travelling to meetings means we have more time to be productive, and we are actually seeing our clients far more often via video conferencing — sometimes every day!

Nevertheless, the team does benefit from being together at times, particularly for impromptu exploitation of the hive brain for creative ideas and learning via osmosis. We need to find a balance, and we are working on it.

However, the main benefit that this time has brought is the spirit of collaboration. We have always worked closely with our clients. Our favourite measure of a good collaborative relationship with a client, supplier or partner is that when we do visit them, we often make our own cuppa. We are not a guest, we’re one of the team. In many ways, the last four months has really built on that — there is something about seeing the insides of people’s homes and lives that naturally brings you closer together.

This time has made us even more intuitive to our client’s needs, how and when the next pivot (and there have been several so far) might play out, and we’re playing a bigger role in shaping our clients’ wider strategies.

Away from our client work, collaboration has still been a big theme. The Scottish Business Resilience Centre acted quickly even before lockdown was official, pulling together invaluable advice for businesses from all quarters, from navigating the JRS or raising additional funds, to considering the security of empty premises. It was inspirational to be involved in their Scottish Business Cares programme. At the heart of their lightning pivot was ‘ensuring that no Scottish business fails because of lack of knowledge’, and experts responded quickly and generously to the call for help.

In our own sector, the heads of creative consultancies like ours — small-ish, owner-run enterprises — got together and shared information. In a highly competitive sector, this was virtually unheard of. Yet, through ‘Heads Together’, a small group of us met fortnightly to work through the latest challenges, whether that be Government advice and financial support, ways to save money, tips for dealing with our landlords, or dealing with the challenges of having a remote and/or furloughed team. Some were affected more than others by what was happening in the market, but all mucked in and shared advice and experiences. It is often lonely running a small business, and I hope that my peers got as much out of the initiative as I did.

The climate is slightly different now. The challenge isn’t so universal, and we will all experience different ups and downs over the coming months as the lasting impacts of the last four bite. However, I hope that the spirit of collaboration lives on — we’re all better for it, and I’ll certainly be making it a bigger part of my thinking in future.

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