An exciting year is coming to an end! We all faced previously unknown challenges and made many new experiences, both in our personal and professional environment. Achievements and business models that were believed to be safe lost their effect, for example in the aviation industry: manufacturers, airlines, airports, maintenance, as well as a slump in sales in the automotive industry, especially in the area of combustion engines and their corresponding suppliers. The direct and indirect suppliers were also always affected. In the beginning, the health system was not at all prepared for the situation and sometimes overwhelmed. A massive expansion of short-time work in all areas and the threat to many economic livelihoods was the result. Supply chains collapsed and some tried to capitalize on the situation; Toilet paper was available on Ebay and cheap masks were sold for dearly money.
Out of necessity, there were some positive developments: In a relatively short time, production lines were converted for the manufacturing of urgently needed ventilators. Vaccine development, which typically took more than five years, took a year to complete. There were also changes in the world of work itself, with home offices (where work was allowed) changing from an exotic exception to the new digital standard. In addition to the economic slump, however, there was also a change in communication in public and social media. Own positions, either for or against lockdowns, easing, vaccinations, the existence of Corona, and others, became more and more extreme and were partly based not on data, facts and figures, but on manipulating opinion-making.
Where are we today? The sudden and high demand for toilet paper has led to an increase in capacity and (now) overstock in closets, basements and garages, since consumption has not changed. Business administration calls it the bullwhip effect. After we were still in good spirits in summer / autumn to look towards normality, reality has shown us what it means to give space to the virus. This second wave hits us with full force, but meanwhile we are much better prepared than in spring. Everyone has used the time differently until today. Some companies have recently invested in reviewing their own processes and developing their own employees or are strategically repositioning themselves. In many industries, Corona acts as an accelerator for change processes.
Here the motto comes true again: It is not the strongest or largest companies that will survive, but the most flexible and adaptable ones.
Let’s have an outlook ahead to 2021:
Before preparing for the journey to Mars, the hole in the ISS should first be found and sealed using a problem-solving process, and some earthly problems should be solved.
In terms of mobility, digitization and artificial intelligence, we will certainly see great progress. In the concepts, however, the direct and indirect effects in terms of cause and effect must also be taken into account.
The entrepreneurial challenges lie primarily in strategic planning with an increasing number of unknown variables. Politicians can certainly set rough guidelines here, the actual requirements ultimately being determined by the market. Sudden peaks in demand should be scrutinized critically. Flexibility is certainly one of the most important success factors for companies. The priority and scope of this flexibility must be clearly defined for the organization by clear goals.
Continuously shorter product life cycles require constant optimization of development processes. Supply chains must be designed to be robust, the advantages and disadvantages of global, regional or local supply chains must be reassessed and adjusted considering the current circumstances as part of risk management. Just-in-time / just-in-sequence must not be weakening the security of supply.
Also for 2021 keep valid: stable, error-free and waste-free processes, as well as qualified and motivated teams lead to cost reductions and competitive advantages – not the other way around!
The new requirements are also taken into account by the PROPERIM brand, for example through a stronger focus on flexibility and the offer of online services. Further changes will be implemented in the course of the coming year. However, the goal remains to focus on strategic, tactical and operational needs of our customers, by practitioners for practitioners. What are your requirements for 2021? I’m curious.
The last days of the year will certainly be different from what we are used to, but we should celebrate them under the limiting condistions, e.g. by video. Perhaps there will also be time for a personal “lessons learned” and just let your mind flow.
Personally, I wish you a Merry Christmas, relaxing days to recharge your batteries and health, happiness and success in the New Year 2021.
Ihr Andreas Kueckelmann