Start Dating your Business.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about the importance of leveraging challenges in pursuit of growth – the blog was called “Butterflies and Transformation“. I wrote this at the lifting of lockdown levels in South Africa focussing on the need for so many business people to return to business life at a more regular pace but needing to take the “next” normal into account.

The saying “Don’t waste a good crisis.” has become well worn as everyone tries to manage the impact of the lockdown and COVID. Here I must also lean on this advice, but as the crisis seems to be lessening in intensity, I want to focus on the learnings from this period.

Most businesses, whether small or large, have a form of organizational culture. In the absence of a pre-defined culture, there will still be an unofficial culture, i.e. a general sense of “this is the way we do things here”. As organizational culture relates to an agreement of shared values and norms it can also overflow into areas such as rituals and habits, even influencing process and procedure. It is therefore essential to have an official culture – without it, an informal one will develop, and it may be counter to what is best for the organization.

In her blog, @Zanele Njapha wrote a two-part series called “Three Ways your Business has Changed”. In this, she highlights that both workforces and clients’ needs and expectations have changed. I agree entirely and think that it is a wasted opportunity not to review how this not only impacts the strategy and services of our organizations but also how it impacts the culture.

The most obvious example is remote working which, although not foreign, has become the primary mode for most businesses. Now I can see that generalization landing with a thud. It has not become the norm for many companies where it does not suit the operating model, for example, mining where you need to be in the mine to extract the resource. I hear you, but with COVID and the national call to work from home as far as possible, many more businesses have found ways to make remote work possible. Ways that they would not have thought possible.

And that is the point. The more COVID, the lockdown and remote work have impacted your business, the bigger the imperative to review “how we do things around here”. Your organizational culture and values need to be adjusted to align with the next normal. In relooking and redefining your culture now, you make the best use of the crisis and start laying strong foundations for the future. The impact of the past few months have been so widespread and now we have a rare opportunity to sit back and get re-acquainted with our clients, businesses, products and services and get a fresh view on them.

And so I want to invite you to go on a first date with your business. On first dates we:

  1. tend to be curious of the person we are dating.
  2. ask a lot of questions and try to put the pieces of the puzzle together with the advantage of a fresh perspective.
  3. are open to new knowledge and going down different paths to create a connection with the other person.
  4. tend to be less judgemental than of people we have known for a long time.
  5. tend to be interested in having fun
  6. are not yet leaning on ego to prop us up.

Go on a date and find out what your business is now and then grow it in this next normal without ego or sentiment about what came before. It will stand you in good stead. And as you do so you will not only reinvent your business but you will learn to unlearn and relearn which will make you change resilient. Just ask @Zanele Njapha who is called the UnLearning Lady.


Zanele Njapha is one of Performance Cafe’s Coffee Companions for September. Look out for the interview on our YouTube channel, LinkedIn or Facebook pages.