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How can businesses create value from moments of crisis?

During moments of crisis, there are always winners and losers

The losers are usually those who wait and hold onto old systems that may not be serving them, in the hope of survival. The winners are almost always those who see the incredibly complex and challenging landscape we find ourselves in, pivot, and innovate quickly. They ask questions such as - what’s the interesting opportunity here? How can we leverage the power of what we have to create something better?

My greatest client relationships were forged during moments of unbelievable stress or difficulty.

Tara LajumokeManaging Director, FT Strategies
1. Create a clear vision and plan

For companies that may be struggling with getting revenue during lockdown, Tara suggests three immediate action points.

MINDSET: The first question business can ask themselves is: how do we win and thrive through this crisis? There is always an opportunity, but it takes the right mindset to find it.

VISION: Paint a clear vision of where your company could go, and don’t be afraid to be bold. The Financial Times had a brave mission ten years ago of reaching 1 million digital subscribers - a number that seemed incredible at the time. Yet in 2019 that’s exactly what it did. Imagine how your employees would feel and create an inspirational, compelling mission that galvanises your entire team to focus on a powerful future. It shouldn’t be absolutely impossible to achieve, but do be ambitious.

PLAN: Build a robust plan to get you there. This should be a combination of finding the best talent to get you there internally, but also recruiting the best advisors externally who can help navigate the road ahead. This could even be colleagues or peers in the same industry - for instance, a few years back The Financial Times worked with The New York Times as they shaped their digital subscription model. Most of all, be clear about the strengths you have and the gaps you need to fill. Once you know what areas need the most work, you can create a tailored plan to get that help.

2. Research the strategies behind successful digital transformations - and adopt them quickly.

At FT Strategies, and prior to that when I was at McKinsey, I’ve faced really trying experiences where a client’s firm was on the brink of bankruptcy, or they’d faced a major business set-back. I think as consultants, we have a unique opportunity in these moments to deliver value and make a real difference - to be that trusted advisor they can rely on to turn the ship around.

Tara LajumokeManaging Director, FT Strategies

One industry that has been particularly affected by digital innovation - and enjoyed a number of success stories - has been the publishing industry. FT Strategies has worked this lockdown with major publishers across the world such as The Independent, La Croix and El Mundo to name a few, as part of a partnership with Google to help eight publishers across Europe create digital subscriptions models. Tara Lajumoke said, “Due to the changing news landscape, many news publishers are really facing critical challenges. For them, it’s no longer about simply maximising reader numbers; we want to ensure they have the digital models so they can not just survive but thrive - a year, five years, ten years from now.”

Grzegorz Piechota, Researcher In Residence at INMA, said: “The business model of publishers is being re-negotiated right now. Before we had multi-sided platforms that connected readers to advertisers to newsmakers, creating value for all these different stakeholders. But what’s changed now is who’s paying for what, and how much they’re paying. 2013 was the first time worldwide newspaper advertising revenue crossed over with consumer revenue in print and online, and since then consumers have been the primary customers for publishers through subscription models. This comes with its benefits: for instance, publishers are able to collect more data about their customers’ behaviour, target ads more efficiently so they’re more successful. In order to really succeed, publishers need to understand that it’s not about finding the best solution - it’s about agility and flexibility in the face of change.”

3. Embrace remote working tools for business-as-usual

Understand early on which remote working tools work best for you during this pandemic. At FT Strategies we’ve set up structured conversations and meetings with our clients, using tools like Google Jamboards, Slido and Slack to work together. Though we miss the physical context of going into an office and getting a sense of that company culture, we do have the benefit of bringing in a lot more people into our virtual meetings and webinars now that everyone is working remotely. We’ve found that our client relationships are just as strong now, and we actively schedule one-on-one time with people to catch up in a less formal environment and create that sense of trust and togetherness.

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