This post was originally published in May 2020, and has been modified slightly.

Looking back over the events of the past two years I’m certain we can all agree it’s been a roller coaster of emotions, anxieties, stresses, and zaps of energies we’ve never before encountered. Hopefully, at least in my lifetime, we’ll never have to endure this again.

But we continue to emerge—better and stronger.

You Don't Have to See the Whole Staircase

In one of The Parker Avery Group’s Reconstructing Retail webinars, “Mobilizing & Sustaining a Resilient Organization,” Marty Anderson talked about the three ways energy can be depleted from a person: societal, organizational, and personal. As Marty explained, because we each have a finite amount of energy to spend, and when major disruptions very fiercely hit all three of these at once, most people become exhausted emotionally and physically without even really understanding why. We’ve discussed this topic many times because of the organizational impacts we’re seeing as businesses continue to emerge.

Yet recently, despite our collective sheer exhaustion, we’ve also witnessed the beginnings of our “new worlds” and many are seeing a brighter future beyond this pandemic.

Granted, it’s not over. But throughout it all, we’ve seen communities, companies, and other organizations pull together and find strengths, skills, personalities, and commonalities we never knew existed.

In our neighborhoods, families planted vegetable gardens to the extent that many seed companies began to run out of stock. I think about the new worlds these efforts are opening up for the next generation of farmers, agriculture scientists, and environmentalists, and the ways today’s children will be able to infuse technology and new thinking into these specialties for a better, healthier future.

Our schools found innovative and fun ways to teach even the youngest of kids through distance learning and other education delivery methods. I think of the children who are sick at home or even hospitalized in normal times and the new possibilities that can now keep them engaged with their schoolmates, friends, and teachers—and the tremendous positive effect this camaraderie can have on their recovery.

For many, the past two years have been a nightmare, and our daily prayers continue to be with those most impacted. But I do believe that not many of the new possibilities would have emerged—at least not nearly this soon—without the pandemic.

We continue to see small businesses tap into digital methods and open up new channels for those who can’t get out, shop, or socialize—whether because of the pandemic or due to other reasons. In my own small town, local small businesses continue to offer online “live” shopping events. These events not only introduce smaller brands to entirely new audiences of shoppers, but they create communities of consumers that become loyal brand ambassadors as well as solidify new relationships that would have never existed prior to COVID-19.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Behind the scenes, there is often a different story, but still ultimately numerous stories of success. Many small businesses weren’t set up to process sales transactions remotely or handle buy-online-pickup-in-store orders. Not even close.

But as with any endeavor, success comes with grit, determination, tapping of skills, mistakes, learning, relearning, trying new things, crossing fingers, and yes: late-night system coding and configuration. If you’ve ever been through a retail system implementation, you understand what I’m talking about.

Parker Avery’s CEO, Robert Kaufman, said it perfectly in his blog, “Fortune Favors the Bold,” where he echoed this sentiment: “…in many cases, the circumstances uncovered the very best of organizations, and these characteristics should not be put back ‘into the drawer.’ Rather, leading companies need to operationalize these skills and put them to good use as we all emerge from the pandemic.”

With this mindset, even larger retailers and consumer brands must break down the barriers of yesterday, leverage new skills and learnings, and enable their merchandising, product development, operations, and supply chain teams to take bold chances and make more informed, quicker, and smarter decisions.

Tricia Gustin

Tricia Gustin,

Senior Director, Marketing

We still are very uncertain about tomorrow. We can use history, science, art, and experiences to try to predict our future, but there are no guarantees, and we know it.

I firmly hold that now is still the time to take chances. Now is the time to be bold. As the late great Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

If you want to toss around some ideas for your own business to adopt new capabilities as we hopefully near the end of this pandemic, we invite you to contact Parker Avery.

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Published On: January 17, 2022Categories: COVID-19, Pandemic, Transformation, Tricia Chismer Gustin