A Look Back at 2020... My Reflections.
Well this year, as we all know, has been challenging for most of us across many aspects of our daily lives. Challenging in ways that many would not have predicted or expected. The line between personal and business became a lot more blurred as the impact of both reverberated across the boundaries. Our focus for 2020 quickly turned to business sustainability as many growth opportunities seemed to dissipate! Taking the knocks and the hits and rising above was what 2020 had in store for us and our mission has been to focus on our response, recovery and rebound with a keen eye on the long-term plan.
Depending on which part of the world you live in, we can now hopefully start to see a glimmer of light at the end of tunnel, which has helped prompt a renewed sense of optimism and new dawn as we welcome 2021 with open arms. On the positive, we’ve seen an increase in demand for our products and services as customers navigate the ‘new normal’ and are doing things differently. On the legal consultant side, lawyers are reflecting on what is important to them and their careers. Both of these developments we believe are longer term trends that will favour our business.
As I ponder on my learnings from this annus horriblis, here are a few of my thoughts on how it has impacted both our scale-up business and me personally - summarised as 4 P’s: Plan, People, Purpose and Perspective. A bit of a different take on my previous look backs, but nothing has been normal this year.
The disruption and uncertainty caused by the political unrest and protests in Hong Kong (our HQ base) from June 2019 into 2020 coupled with economic experts predicting an ominous looming recession meant that we (along with many others) were already heading into 2020 with much trepidation. Planning ahead for 2020 with BCP’s (Business Continuity Plans) and contingency arrangements had begun. However, nothing could have prepared us for the global health crisis that evolved, unraveled and then spiraled across the globe.
At first, sales took a dip as customers set about navigating their own ships through the uncertainty. Scenario planning immediately became a regular feature on our agendas as we grappled with contemplating all possible challenges which lay ahead. We shifted into sustainability mode helping ourselves and those around us. Our fight Covid plan was about focusing on our core and what was important for sustainability and survival. The analogy of a strong core being critical to physical performance of the human body, became our strategic pillars:
- Customer Centricity – embedding the customer within the fabric and culture of the business
- Operational Excellence – building a robust and scalable operating model
- Resilience – aligning on our Purpose, framing our resilience and focusing on all facets of our wellbeing
- Exceptional Experience – ensuring a strong repeatable customer value proposition
This was our north star for 2020 – as we aimed to protect our bottom line.
The impact on People has been immense and different for everyone. Many of us have dug into our resilience reserves to get through the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing impacts this year has had. However, I’m proud of the way our team and community have shown vulnerability at times - and strength at crucial times – and have stuck together to see this through. As a leader or manager, the ability to listen and to show empathy and compassion is essential – something that is a work in progress personally but this year has been a huge uptick in the learning curve, for which I am grateful. I thought I was expected to have all of the answers– which turns out is not true at all – although thoughts, solutions or a plan to find a way was always useful! But the saying is true, tough and challenging times test the character of people in different ways – some rise to the challenge and others struggle. And I have seen both. It has been a year of learning and growth and I am very grateful to our team for their resilience, perseverance, trust and loyalty.
Having a clear Purpose and being aligned on that Purpose is a key part of building resilience. As part of our Covid response plan, we revisited our Purpose which was originally workshopped soon after our founding in 2016. We wanted to ensure that this still resonated with our team and we all agreed that we needed to make some slight tweaks. Ensuring a purpose driven organisation that was nimble and agile, with a strong culture and leadership and with a long-term survival mindset was identified as paramount. This is easier said than done. However, staying true to your Purpose and ensuring that those guiding principles remain the motivation is more poignant through tough times. One thing that has maintained throughout, is the belief that we truly do have a product and service that is just as important now as ever. We know now that our People, Process + Tech and Managed Legal Services offerings will be in more demand as customers look at their legal operating models, after this year. We’re reshaping legal solutions together, for a better tomorrow. That’s our Purpose.
As with everything, keeping things in Perspective is a good reality check. Life is more than work or business. Taking care of ourselves, our friends, family and loved ones’ well-being has never been more important. Getting out into nature or the beach, gym, yoga, meditation, walks with the dogs, checking in with friends and family more frequently, Zoom chats and Teams calls have been some of my ‘oil’ for getting through this. My personal mantra for the year changed focus from business oriented to more basic things - being healthy, being safe, being happy and being kind. Simple but true. The old person taking their last breath of life reflecting on their longevity and success and saying ‘at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you have achieved, it is the way that you make people feel’ puts a real perspective on the meaning of life.
So, I'm going to sign off with a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been along on this journey with us or who has looked on from afar. I don’t profess to have all the answers (see, I’ve learned!), but am happy to share my own experience and insights of the highs and lows of what has been a year of challenges for many.
I wish you all a happy, healthy, relaxing and kind holiday season with loved ones. Our Team and I thank you all for your support and we look forward to a brighter and healthier 2021.
Dec 18, 2020