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128 Days Later

London, UK
INFLUENCER: Jelly founder Chris Page discusses the right way to approach our forthcoming post-Covid world

At the start of this year, I was asked to write a piece about the lessons learnt over the previous (what then felt like terrible) 12 months and to predict what I hoped would happen over the next year to come.

Well now, I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention but, well, the landscape for predictions has changed somewhat. We’ve gone from praying for a more conscientious and equitable, Earth-friendly workplace to hoping that there will be, hopefully, any actual workplace at all.

The global situation and our forthcoming post-Covid world is going to feel like a very different place to the one that I tried writing about in January, what is going to be the right way to approach it?

From a purely economic viewpoint I checked and it looks like this is my 6th recession since setting up Three Blind Mice (Jelly’s parent company) in early 1994. I remember when we set it up we were unable to get any finance as no bank would lend us any money (can’t say I blame them), so we had to borrow money from my dad. Thanks dad.

So, what have half a dozen recessions taught me? A few consistent things:

1. Make you sure you’ve got a great FD or are taking the best financial advice possible.

2. Don’t get greedy, even when the money is rolling in.

3. Don’t panic when things go bad, in fact don’t over-react to good or bad, stay true to yourself.

In fact, it’s not always constructive to look to change and innovate your way out of a crisis. Sometimes it’s just as important to sick to your values and proven strengths and rely on those to get you through it. Play to the qualities of your team, look to where they excel and and concentrate on those aspects of your craft.

Outside of basic economics, you’ve got to accentuate the positives as well. Now that I’ve written that of course, it looks like the most bland well-meaning piece of fluff one could think of, however, there are lessons to be learnt in every experience. Maybe, just maybe, we will all learn something on a bigger level from the things that we are going through now?

In my original piece, I talked about a better moral future for the creative businesses, how we could become stronger morally and become more ethical, changing behaviour to help ensure a positive change in society. I strongly believe that what is happening now reinforces this.

As a society we have managed – admittedly with various degrees of success – to be disciplined enough to act, with one thought, to ensure the ongoing survival of our species. Surely then, that means that we can invoke the same kind of discipline to ensure the healthy survival of our planet?

I was reading today that the tourist trips to the Barrier Reef have ceased during the outbreak. The boats and divers that normally ferry day-trippers to the reef are now being used to re-seed the coral and repair the devastation that tourism has caused. My heart tells me that’s the kind of behaviour that needs to become the new normal. Perhaps we need to take some time out from blind capitalism and enforce on long-term changes elsewhere. After all, we have proved that we can do it.

“How businesses fare in the future will depend on how organisations redefine purpose and company culture to their teams, adapting to drive and support new ways of working.”

Back in January, my main goal for Three Blind Mice and Jelly was to become a registered B Corporation. Like everything else that plan has been derailed by circumstance but as soon as we are able to operate ‘normally’ again then I believe that goal is more important than ever. As cultural insight expert Dr John Curran recently stated, “How businesses fare in the future will depend on how organisations redefine purpose and company culture to their teams, adapting to drive and support new ways of working”, i.e. talk to your people, listen to them and look after them. In fact not just ‘your people’ but ALL people. We now need to remember that we are connected by more things than the stuff that divides us and being tone deaf to that would be a retrograde step.

So, we need to have a plan. As creative individuals and businesses, a plan that keeps the best of the old world and embraces the things that are helping us to get through to the new one. We need to disseminate what has happened and learn from it, not just crash back to how we were creating before. Things have changed, let’s try and make them for the better.

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