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Now is a good time for business as unusual


Last week I ran several workshops and training sessions. I was positively surprised by how well they ran online.

This is despite the fact that I must be one of the oldest guys around who has lived my entire professional life in an online digital reality.

I started using email in 1978. The newspaper I worked with was the first in the world to automate type setting and allow journalists to actually type the text in straight for publishing, without any typographer involved in re-typing the text.

Yes, we used to actually work like this: the journalist typed the text on a typewriter; the editor edited it with handwritten remarks; then it was telexed to the main office, where the typographer typed the text once more so it became copy that was manually pasted and then prepared for offset printing. There were solid walls between journalists, typographers and printers – we respected and protected each other. But the process was crazy, considering the technology of today.

So today, imagine we are a decade further into the future. We will look back on a time when we used to travel for six or seven hours to have two- to three-hour long meetings. A time when the flight ticket used to cost less than the hourly fee of the consultant. It was the obvious choice, get everybody together. Never mind the environmental impact or intrusion into evenings or weekends.

We will look back on a time when we used to travel for six or seven hours to have two- to three-hour long meetings.

I am not going to stop flying. But the kind of flying that takes you out of bed at 4AM and back in bed by midnight the same day I can be without. Travel should be about experiences and discovery. And we need to put a price on it.

Optimism is a core value of Leidar, and while we – as everyone else – are rattled by Covid-19, we are rethinking our modus operandi and we are restarting.  Compared to many other businesses we are in a lucky situation: a lot of our work can go on without physical, in-person contact.  And thinking positively, now is a good time to rethink and to start working differently.

There is a lot of engagement that works very well online:

  • Management meetings and processes
  • Media tours
  • Strategy development
  • Training and coaching
  • Community building
  • Research and monitoring

Online engagement calls for better preparation, so maybe it is more effective – in addition to being more affordable and environmentally friendly.

This brings me to another discovery thanks to this crisis. I am lucky to live in a village where social distancing is easy to practice. During our Sunday promenade we ran into one of our neighbors and she told us about how fabulous the farm next to us is for vegetables, eggs, cheese and other groceries. You can just walk in, pick what you need and pay electronically. The local butcher also accepts cash free end-of-month payments. I must admit that I drove by so many times and did not go into any of these local outlets. Thanks to my extensive business travel and tight schedule I had to secure all we needed from the supermarket.

Despite my philosophical support for everything short traveled, I have up to this very moment not been able to fully appreciate it. I am rethinking all this now. And my sentiment is that this crisis is as the Chinese would say, full of danger and opportunity (the Chinese word for crisis is made up of two signs: danger and opportunity).

The opportunity:
  • It is a time for all of us to seriously rethink how we commit and practice sustainable living, whether on a personal level or as a business.
  • It is a good time to restart new and better (more sustainable) ways of working and living.
  • Your stakeholders are looking for good news and other news besides Covid-19.
  • Your employees want to hear from you.

We are here to help you set the course, navigate and communicate. It is a good time for business as unusual, to rethink and to restart.

Rolf Olsen

CEO, based in Geneva

Rolf Olsen launched Leidar in 2010 and continues to lead the company as CEO.  He advises clients on strategy and narrative development; crisis management; and complex reputational issues on a global scale.

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