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Flexing your adaptability muscles

One of my favourite business success stories from 2020 (yes, there were plenty!) was Granadilla’s almost overnight pivot from a swimwear company to a fresh produce delivery service. It’s a masterclass in creating value out of chaos by acting quickly and decisively.

Granadilla’s leadership realised that with the lockdown, small farmers and other food businesses would struggle when restaurants, hotels and farmers’ markets closed. On the other hand, their customers would want fresh fruit, vegetables and other food delivered to their homes so they could stay healthy and avoid the shops. Linking this together, they redeployed their ecommerce operations, marketing capabilities and logistics partners to launch this service. This supported other small businesses during a tough time, and also allowed them to do more than just survive. In fact, they grew.

And remember, this pivot happened during the first few weeks of South Africa’s hard lockdown when things were at their most uncertain and chaotic. Nevertheless, Granadilla’s leadership saw the opportunity and acted — fast. They beat many large traditional retailers to the punch, and provided excellent customer service.

Just over a year later, chapter two of Granadilla Eats’ story took place with its acquisition. In June it joined the UCOOK and Faithful to Nature stable. The acquisition allows the meal delivery service and the sustainable retailer to boost their fresh produce offering. And Granadilla Eats goes from having a Cape Town footprint to a national one.

This is a great illustration of the power of being adaptable. Indeed, survival of the most adaptable is the mantra for the pandemic, and post-pandemic world. Much is made of technology-driven innovation, agility, flexibility and access to real-time data for just in time decision-making. And, as I wrote in ASA November 2020, in challenging times the accountant’s leadership role should expand from managing liquidity to include balancing risk with the ability to quickly and responsibly make the changes required for your business to remain relevant.

And there’s the rub. Even for companies that do have decision-making data and insights at their fingertips, it can still be difficult to act on this information. When the unthinkable has happened, it can happen again. And if this fear is always front of mind, it can lead to being bogged down by analysis paralysis, constantly bracing for the next blow, and never actually taking action to move your business into the future.

Whereas the Granadilla Eats story shows, the first step is spotting the opportunity and being creative about challenges to reach a decision about what your next step should be, but this decision is meaningless if you don’t act on it. And when you do, act wholeheartedly and with conviction.

Acting in uncertainty

The key takeaway from the remarkable Granadilla Eats story is the resilience and energy displayed by the leadership team. Instead of focusing on the negative and what had been lost, they looked to the future and to the opportunities available to them and their ecosystem. And then took action. An uncertain future should not stop you acting, instead it should motivate you more. We need to start flexing our adaptability muscles right now, to navigate whatever ups and downs the future brings.

By the way, I have no affiliation with any of these companies.

As published in Accountancy SA - September 2021

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