What connects Givenchy, Absolut Vodka, and a women’s co-operative in Turkey?

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Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

This piece was originally published on May 29, 2020 on LinkedIn.

Crises are always tests — tests of leadership; tests of resilience; tests of preparedness. But most of all they are tests of our ability to adapt — our agility.

As the economic engines restart round the world, companies are both managing the physical return to the workplace and planning for a new tomorrow. And the agile muscles that have enabled companies to innovate through the peak of the pandemic will be what ensures they succeed in that uncertain future.

Delta Airlines in the US is using empty passenger jets to deliver medical supplies within the country.

Givenchy and Christian Dior have both used their fragrance production know-how to make hand sanitisers. Absolut vodka has also adapted its distilling process to increase the alcohol content to 70% ABV to make alcohol rubs.

Spanish clothing brand, Zara, is sourcing fabrics to make protective clothing for frontline medical staff.

In Turkey, Arçelik, a Koç Holding subsidiary, has adapted its consumer durable manufacturing to make mechanical ventilators.

Greene King, the UK pub operator, faced with wholesale closure of all its outlets, now has an online ordering and delivery service: you can’t go to the pub, but perhaps the pub can come to you.

Everywhere people are launching little acts of defiance and courage. In Turkey, women’s co-operatives have stepped in to rescue the artichoke harvest that would otherwise have rotted in the fields. Personal trainers and teachers are offering online classes; amateur choirs are connecting on video platforms to perform together across geographies; community networks shop and deliver to vulnerable neighbours.

Competitive tensions, trade wars, and nationalistic divides have been swept aside (somewhat) as we come together to meet a much greater common threat.

We should all applaud these early efforts to meet new challenges; to pool resources and expertise for the common good; to see business and government come together to help defeat this health catastrophe. Now we must apply these lessons to the recovery phase: to remain agile during the next business cycle, adapting to a new operating environment and keeping the focus on a big goal.

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