Many of us have changed this year. And quite often for the better, I guess…
So here I am – it’s Christmas time again. And like the years before, the family is together, enjoying the breakfast and dinner times, reading books, finishing jigsaw puzzles or reflecting over the year. What a year indeed. From a wider perspective nothing different than before yet looking closer basically everything changed.
In January I felt sorry for the people in China and how they had to suffer from being locked up to get the virus under control. At that time, I was travelling frequently cross-countries and we tried to compensate order delays from Asia and maybe produce them in Europe instead. Only weeks later Italy was locked up as well and without fabric and trims you could just forget production. One market after the other went down, cancellations and reductions were discussed, uncertainty was the daily talk. From plan to crisis mode – the real VUCA world appeared without much warning.
In March, the crisis came nearer and nearer, I got one of the last flights out of Turkey on a Friday evening. On Saturday morning 8 am, my way back to the factory was closed. And so, I started to lead the tea over the air – had all my jour-fixes and even factory improvement tours virtually and arranged myself in a Video room at the headquarter for the next 3 months. What felt a bit odd in the beginning and exhausting too, became the new normal. Very fast, everyone realized that the time to have this global crisis solved was simply too long to pause, to wait or do nothing. Everyone did something - some complained, some retreated, some moved, some bent, but life simply went on.
For me, after ending my corporate life at Hugo Boss after 25 years, June was a life turning point too. I had to reshuffle my habits again, not only because of Covid-19, but mainly because a new chapter in the book of life was opened. The first white pages appeared blanc, no story in to tell, yet all curiosity senses highly awake. My personal wish has always been to be a life-long learner and nowadays this motto became a daily phrase for endless education systems. According to that trait, I learn new things every day, in a way that I always liked the most - learning from the experts. There is not a day that I do not search the internet for expert knowledge. It gives me the opportunity to learn faster, to make less mistakes by myself, to invest less in the wrong direction.
It also reminds me to the efforts we have taken to train and educate people in the production with Mixed Reality Devices like #Hololens, #Oculus Rift and #Oculus Quest – in a so called “Virtual Dojo”. This training literally cut the training times in half and gave a lot of flexibility on the shopfloor because of better trained and better-skilled people.
Besides learning to survive in the new digitized world, learning to learn is something that we all faced in generic and sometimes very personal ways. All of us have become familiar with videoconferencing, a habit that I recall from Wim Wenders’ “Until the end of the world” in 1991 and all of us have become familiar with working outside of the office. I used to smile about the “Generation Starbuck’s” and how they try to be productive. I used to shake my head when reading about IT experts on Bali, surfing in the morning and writing code in the afternoon. Well, I don’t smile anymore, I do similar. Sitting at home or somewhere else with my devices and being in touch with the world, talking to people everywhere and helping others to better digitize their business, processes, management, mindset or simply become more agile and responsive.
That is a good thing, and I am sure it will stay - we will fly less professionally, we will have more time with our families and friends commuting less often, we will learn much faster in digital ways using digital Gemba sessions. We will search and find the necessary expertise faster to foster our success, either inside or outside of our organizations. Clearly, every change has a price ticket and this one is huge. I am not ignoring the endless people who lost their jobs or will lose their jobs in short term. There are many industries winning and many losing too. Overall, I believe that our life will become better over time, also because of this global crisis and the innovation that lies in it to survive in a now true VUCA world.
Therefore, I want to end this year with an interview of Jeff Bezos in 1999 which excited me a couple of weeks ago. It so clearly points out to have a clear vision and a focus on the customer’s happiness. Watch out for Minute 2.45 when he answers on a question about being an internet company and how that fits to his now strategy
Enjoy the week, subscribe on my homepage if you want or get in touch with me directly
Jeff Bezos Interview: https://youtu.be/GltlJO56S1g