We don’t have much money so we’re going to have to think

These famous words from Sir Ernest Rutherford have never been more relevant than they are right now as we all deal with Covid 19.

We do what we do the way we’ve always done it for a reason. It works. Until the day it doesn’t or can’t. Right now mostly whatever it is any of us do, doesn’t work and/or can’t work. Creativity is required if we want to stay afloat. I want to share with you 2 NZ stories I hope will inspire you to think differently; 3 questions that I’ve based my business on for over 30 years and an example of turning a problem into a new opportunity using those 3 questions.

In my last newsletter I offered 5 steps to deal with a problem (1. Pre-comtemplation – not ready to change. 2. Contemplation – knowing you have to change but not knowing how. 3. Preparation – considering options. 4. Action – trying out a few things. 5. Maintenance – making sure we don’t slip back into old habits). In particular I urged everyone to let as many staff work from home: permanently if possible and I suggested every business needs online ordering/shopping capability.

Bill Mancer, Director of Rise Accountants contacted me to say ‘Thank you for your email. As usual, packed with sound advice. I started my own small accounting practice with six team members in 2002.  Roll on a few years, the business had grown, a key staff member announced her pregnancy, another key member advised me she was moving to Cambridge. That is 100% of my productive team at the time, excluding me. We made a decision to adapt further so all work could be done offsite. I retained my now Cambridge based team member and my now hard working young mum who didn’t want to lose touch with her clients did some work from home, and we continued operating without disruption.

That brings us to the day Jacinda made her announcement at 2pm on that fateful Monday. By 2:30pm we had made a decision to relocate to home as from that evening. By the following morning all was set-up and operational. Our phone service was already answered from a virtual office, so no issue there. I have staff reporting that they love the way we are working. We have a zoom coffee meeting every Monday. Our remote staff now feel more included than before due to the zoom meeting. We seriously may be adopting this way of working as a permanent solution. I am tossing up what to do with the office. At this point I am leaning towards making it a shared facility, with reduced dedicated office space for us, dedicated offices for others who may want to use the facility, and a beefed up meeting room. With this Covid-19 issue, and looking at your 5 steps, we were pretty much ready to go straight to step 4. To say that I am chuffed with the position that the business is in is an understatement. Rather than focussing on how to make the business survive, we can continue to focus on supporting our clients, and also target new business.’

Jeff Sharp, owner of ES Plastic in Hamilton was facing total meltdown when Jacinda made her announcement. He lived next door to two doctors and asked what they needed that he could make from his factory. The Drs suggested plastic face masks – no problem. The owner asked if there was anything more challenging he could make  – ventilators the Drs suggested. They took an existing ventilator apart – worked out what was needed to reproduce them and with kiwi ingenuity plus some farming technology he now manufactures 100 ventilators per day! Once NZ no longer needs them he will have a massive market globally with other countries still wrestling with the virus.

My 3 questions:

  1. What do I have?
  2. What else could I do with it? (Creativity)
  3. Who else could be interested? (Leverage)

Meet Assoc. Prof. Liu Shao Quan, Dr. Toh Mingzhan and Nguyen Thuy Linh from the National University of Singapore.

  1. What did Singapore have – an overload of wasted white bread
  2. What else could they do with it – turn it into a probiotic drink
  3. Who else could be interested – anyone with digestive issues

The story: They started with commonly-available white sandwich bread, cutting it into small pieces and then blending those with water to create a slurry. That slurry was then pasteurized, after which probiotic bacteria and yeast were added.

After that mixture had been left to ferment in an incubator, what resulted was a creamy, sweet and slightly fizzy drink that could be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks. Even after that amount of time, it still contained at least one billion probiotic cells per serving, which the university states is the current recommendation by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics for maximum gut health benefits. No bread or other ingredients are wasted in the process, which takes about one day. And once it’s made available to consumers, the drink could reportedly occupy a unique commercial niche.

And I leave you with my final thought …

‘‘Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.’
– Albert Einstein

Ann Andrews CSP
Speaker, author, profiler, Life Member NSANZ

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