60 Seconds with…Mike Cameron-Davies, Business Transformation Leader - CEng FIMechE

Impact – what has been the greatest challenge for you and your company employees so far? (Your clients?)

The greatest impact for my clients is that so much is changing so quickly. We are truly living through history and what that means is that no-one is able to predict accurately what happens next and plan accordingly. The media has reported this quite widely, but what I see amongst all this confusion of unknowns is opportunity. There are always 2 sides to every coin and to be able to pull the threads of a future scenario together, and build a business strategy around it, will take some companies from good, to great, and beyond. We only need to look at other crises in history to see how this has played out before, where a company has positioned itself during a crisis, such that when some kind of normality comes to being, they are poised ready for accelerated growth – the Japanese car industry for example maximising the opportunities of the oil crisis in the 80’s.

Has this been heightened by 2nd lock down?

A second lockdown has not helped, as it has thrown a spanner into the works once more. Most business plans are based on a linear or repeating pattern of activity, and therefore when step changes to the external market occur, they are not ready to deal with them. Also, a relatively ‘surprise’ second lockdown also knocks confidence, which in turn flows through to confidence to spend and invest. Some companies that do have a leaner operating system have been able to cope better with the 2nd lockdown, and to a degree, everyone has learned a lot from what happened last time round. With one scenario being that even with a vaccine, we will all have to change the way we live forever, I think it increasingly likely that we will just accept how it is, and learn to live with this as a new norm.

Adaptability – has the business (client businesses) coped well with making changes? Is it easier second time around?

In general, the businesses that I am working with have adapted well this second time around, as plans were already available to put in place from the first lockdown. From what I have seen, very few businesses had a contingency plan to deal with the impact of the pandemic as we saw it play out in Q1.

Support – What additional mechanisms for support (team, sub-contractors’ suppliers, management) have you been able to use and how have you gone about this?

Communication is always critical  for any business. But as the pandemic has stolen personal interactions from us, I have found it critical to increase my personal communications accordingly. More phone calls, more video calls, more chat-based messaging etc. have been crucial to make everyone feel involved and engaged. I have found myself having a lot more conversations about peoples well-being, and it’s amazing how just talking about it can make people feel better….and at the end of the day, we are all pretty much in the same boat, although some of us are very fortunate to be living out in the countryside and able to still enjoy lovely country walks, even when on lockdown – I certainly class myself as luckier than most, which is probably why I try and be there to support others as much as I can.

Tech – Have you discovered anything amazing that you would recommend?

There is so much tech out there it’s incredible but having gone into lockdown having just been introduced to Microsoft Teams I have found it invaluable (other brands of platform are available). Most of my work currently is project based so having a repository for files that I can control access to, and give access to, for all users is highly valuable. Obviously being able to run and schedule meetings with video, voice or just to have basic messaging is great. Having taken a sabbatical from DBpixelhouse to start my own business in the pandemic, it would be remiss of me not to mention their new virtual events platform – Pixelhub. It brings business to business trade shows into the virtual world, and having experienced a few of the competitors, I have to say, Pixelhub is second to none!

What happens next? – comments on positive and negative changes, ones that will be worth hanging on to and ones you can’t wait to say goodbye to.

What happens next is a great question and is actually the basis for why I set up my new business. Having had a career of business transformation and knowing that physical tradeshows would be a long time off, I saw the pandemic as a massive opportunity for UK businesses in all sectors, to take plunge and transform to be future ready. There is so much change in the world right now; pandemic, Brexit, US-Chinese relations etc. that this period in history will become a period of massive sifting – only the strong will survive. In the world of lean we talk about a ‘burning platform’ being needed to drive change. As human beings we like stability and do not seek out something that may rock the boat. However, in the depths of a pandemic, everything is unstable, so there is no time better than today to throw a little caution to the wind (in a structured and planned manner of course) and transform your business ready for the future, and be a business that is a Covid success story. The pandemic has accelerated a number of trends that were always going to happen – working from home, more use of online digital platforms etc. But I also believe that it has driven a greater awareness and concern for the environment, a desire to shop and support more local businesses and a real care about one another, so as always, there is always some good that comes from bad……

Business Transformation website: https://www.business-transformation.org.uk/

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Date Published: 11th November 2020