Charlene Lambert

Are we still on track for growth in 2020?

After a year of restructuring in 2018, and another one of consolidation in 2019, the WBII Board truly believed that 2020 – that beautifully dual swan-shaped, round and balanced number – would be our lucky year, for both the organization and our members, and a time of growth! We were certain that growth would come about by deepening ties with our amazing members, and by reaching out even farther, for example through the ‘Start Your Own Business’ programme that we offer to men and women in the international community. We had a fantastic series of networking events lined up, with a cascade of speakers month by month throughout the year building on the growth theme. Our new website was ready to be launched, new energy was added through the bonus of new Board Members and the Mighty COMMS Team, and the ‘sun, the moon, and the stars’ were all aligned, or so we thought, as we announced to all in January that our focus for the new year was on GROWTH. And then came COVID-19…

Many kinds of growth

Out of all the difficult and unexpected things that occurred over the past challenging months, the one that we may have benefited most from is the abundance of thought-provoking webinars that has been made available. Several recent webinars have treated subjects related to growth, and some of the ideas that they offered are particularly noteworthy.

A McKinsey webinar, for example, suggested that there are both defensive and offensive moves that need to be considered in a crisis situation. They reminded us that those businesses that adopted digital technologies, developed partnerships – even with their fiercest competitors – and thought together with their employees about what they were facing, were likely able to manage better, and continue to grow.

Our own Advisory Board Member Sinead Hewson (TpEBO) also guided us through the topic of continued growth in a WBII webinar held last week on this topic. She explained to us that in addition to financial growth, there are different ways to think about growth, including that of the body, mind and spirit, a useful reminder for us all. She presented us with the Japanese concept of Ikigai – meaning ‘a reason for being’ – and suggested that it could help us to reimagine growth in new ways by identifying exactly what it is that we are truly looking for. The ideal of Ikigai demonstrates that it is by discovering a combination of what we love and are good at, what the world needs, and what we can be paid for, that helps to understand our reason for being and to grow.

Growth revised

So how is WBII’s growth doing after 3 months of lockdown? We are actually just fine! Having quickly pivoted by moving all of our programmes – including networking events, book club, Mastermind groups, and even a ‘borrel’ – online for the time being, we are taking advantage of the digital technologies such as Zoom and Slack to stay in touch with our members and audience, and support them through this unusual period. Our new, fully automated website is serving us well, and able to manage the registration process for all of the online events. Monthly networking events have been well attended online, with the planned speakers who continue to open up new business insights and ideas for us. Some participants have said that the experience of being online is even more intimate than a regular meeting, because the speaker is looking at you (personally) right in the face! The fact that many of us are working from home gives us also a more personal connection with each other. The networking part of the meeting, always held toward the end of the evening, is delightfully enabled through technologies allowing the larger group to be split up into different ‘rooms’, offering a cozier setting for interesting and friendly conversations.

Finally, because of, or thanks to, COVID-19, we all have had to learn to adapt over the past months in many different and unexpected ways, which also helps us to grow. The WBII Board will soon be commencing planning for 2021 and identifying the annual theme. And while we haven’t yet decided on the topic, I suspect that the unexpected, but welcome, concept of Ikigai will be our guiding light! Take good care and stay safe!